Monday, May 1, 2017

Life isn’t perfect. In spite of all the glossy photos we see in magazines or on Pinterest, life is often messy, chaotic, and confusing. In fact, life can feel unbearable sometimes. When we experience chronic pain, are forced to make tough decisions, face difficulties within our families, experience a fracture in a friendship, or even lose someone we love, our lives are thrown into a sea of turmoil. We become confused. We are plagued with doubt and fear. We may even lose sight of God within the swirling storm clouds.

As Christians, we have the comfort of knowing that there is a calm amidst our storms. You can think of your messy life as a unique hurricane, and if that’s the case, God is the eye of your storm. In God – the eye – there is nothing but peace. Although damaging winds and lighting may fly around you, there is calm in the arms of the Lord.

In the Gospel, we see Jesus on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus was resting as the group navigated toward their destination. A storm suddenly appeared and began raging before them, pounding their boat with angry waves. The disciples became afraid and sought Jesus, who calmly arose, rebuked the winds, and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” As we know, the wind died down, and calm fell upon the sea once more. We may also remember what Jesus said to the disciples next: “Why are you so afraid? Do you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

Like the disciples, we may not actively seek God when life is calm or ordinary. We often find ourselves scrambling toward Jesus in the midst of life’s storms. In these storms, the Lord’s mighty powers are revealed to us as he helps us endure what lies ahead. We can count on our God, who conquered death, the grave, and the power of Hell itself, to guard and protect us, no matter what type of trial comes our way.

So how can you seek the calm within the storm? How can you reach out to God for help? These 4 steps can help you find rest in the Lord when times get tough:

Pray – Instead of allowing yourself to spiral in fear, pray. Bring all of your troubles to Him and lay them at His feet. Tell Him how worried or afraid you are. He loves when we seek Him out, and He will patiently listen to all that you tell Him with your words and with your heart. Remember the promises made in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Stay Fixed Upon the Lord – After you bring your petitions to God, it’s time to release your anchor and fix yourself in one position – pointed toward the Lord. Fix yourself on Him when fierce storms batter you. Allow the violent winds and waves to buffet your face. Let the thunder roar as loud as it will. No matter how much fear may try to creep in, hold fast in God and trust in His faithfulness, which endures forever. His love is everlasting, and He will protect you, “for God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Accept the Hard Times – Hardships can be difficult to accept. We want our world to be perfect and free of anxiety and stress; however, there is no such thing as a life without challenges. Accept the day and your challenges as they come. Amidst the chaos, choose to seek God. Keep in mind that your goal isn’t to fix or control everything – your goal is to keep talking to God and to seek Him in the storm. After all, He is in control of everything and is steering the ship. You only need to trust in Him!

Find Purpose in the Storm – When hardships come your way, you can do one of two things: you can either choose to harden your heart and drown yourself in pessimism and hate, or you can choose to find purpose in your challenges. Although it may be hard to see at times, there is always some good in each storm. Our life’s storms can help refine who we are, help us refocus our priorities, bring us closer to God, and make us grow in holiness. Instead of throwing a pity party, choose to thank God for the good things in your life and ask Him to help you endure whatever you are facing now. He will never let you down!

When life gets hard, we invite you to remember this special passage from Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Is God steering your boat?