Perhaps you have heard the saying, “Into each life some rain must fall.” Well, what if what you’re experiencing a storm like Florence? I believe that tests often come in multiples.
I’ve recently heard stories like:
I have cancer.
We don’t earn enough to make ends meet.
I’m desperately overwhelmed. We have good things, but can’t enjoy them.
My child is struggling to adjust in school.
When storms come into my life, I like to turn to the story of Noah (Genesis 6-9:17). He knew a storm. He knew the one that was so long and so strong that it virtually wiped out everything around him. Because Noah had no choice but to trust in God for his very survival, his story serves as a powerful inspiration to me.
The thing that most impresses me about Noah is his faith. So often it’s easy to think about our faith solely as an internal anchor when we hit hard times. But that wasn’t the case for Noah. His faith accompanied by the building of an enormous, physical ark. This external ark was illustrative of his internal life. It was a tribute to his obedience to God, the very thing that saved him.
I see God highlighting the importance of physical steps that we can take through our storms in Noah’s story. The book of James (James 2:17) claims, “Faith without works is dead.” We can’t do the work of God, but we can seek Noah’s same kind of bold obedience to honor the One with our life raft.
Just as Noah used everyday tools to build the ark, there are universal spiritual tools that we can employ to navigate adversity successfully. Those tools, formulated as simple steps below, will help us honor God in the midst of life’s storms:
1. Stand on God’s promises.
Search the Bible for encouragement particular to your situation. Claim those promises aloud by faith at least once a day. It’s not a coincidence that the ark was floating on water. Sometimes scripture is our only solid ground to stand on that keeps us from sinking. It can and will keep us afloat.
2. Pray without ceasing
(I Thessalonians 5:17). I see this encouragement is two-fold. First, we can pray individually to God throughout the day; that’s like an ongoing dialogue of sharing and listening to him. I love how the Bible demonstrates God was explicitly instructing Noah to save him. God will faithfully guide us too. Second, we can come together with one or more fellow believers to lift up pressing concerns together. It’s incredible how the being together unleashes God’s Spirit.
3. Affirm your faith with praise.
Whether we’ve traveled safely through the storm or are still in it, God delights in hearing our praise. Paul, who had been beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned knew this principle well. That’s why he encourages each of us to always petition God with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). Doing so reminds us of the goodness of God and strengthens our faith.
4. Keep showing up.
Considerable feats begin and end with small steps. The massive ark was built one piece of chiseled wood at a time. Every day that we are faithful in the little ways, we are opening the door for God to do something incredible that we cannot. We must take the concrete actions that only we can do to see our situation through.
5. Believe in miracles!
Sometimes we hope for a miracle, and it doesn’t happen. But sometimes we hope for a miracle, and it does. I recently talked with a friend whose child is now free of terminal cancer. Everyone tearfully prayed for the family together, she underwent a clinical trial successfully, and her recovery is nothing short of a miracle. Take the limits off of God. Open the door for him to work. Noah was willing to risk everything when he did.
Plank by plank, nail by nail, he built the ark. That translates into prayer by prayer, affirmation by affirmation, God will see us through. His hope and presence will never leave us. Rays of sunshine will return.
It’s important to realize that we won’t be where we started when the storm ends, however. Just as the ark carries Noah to a new location to start again, we will be different, changed. Hopefully, we’ll feel that olive branch of peace in our own hands as we trust the One who works all things for our good. But yes, if we keep looking up, we’ll notice our rainbow.