Do you ask why during stormy times in your life? Why is this happening to me … why now … why ever? What did I do to I deserve this? There’s no doubt that it’s tempting to visit these types of doubt storms when other storms are hitting and hitting and pounding away at us.
In our marriage (of over 50 years) we’ve gone through quite a few stormy times. Some of them have been devastating. As a matter of fact, we recently went through a series of tough, tough storms. Oh, they weren’t about our relationship —thankfully, we’re fine with “us” right now. That hasn’t always been the case in our life together but at this particular point in our marriage, we’re doing quite well —really well. Thank you, Lord!
But that may or may not be true for you. It may be that you have a very troubled marriage. And you are confused and angry —trying to make sense of it all.
If that is happening in your life, or if it’s something else that is troubling you as you travel through life together with your spouse, we encourage you to keep reading. We believe there will be something here for you. It’s something God wants to use within this Insight to minister to you in a unique way.
During a Stormy Time
In our marriage presently, it’s other “stuff” in life, which is driving us bonkers. It’s tough stuff that life is delivering, such as health issues, family relationship problems, ministry matters, financial concerns, sick and dying family members who tug us in all directions, and lots more.
Right now, these can be termed as, “Smaller Storms of Stress.” That’s what Anne Graham Lotz calls them. In her book, Why? Trusting God When You Don’t Understand, she talks about the “smaller storms of stress.” However, as she says, “They can be overwhelming when clustered together, becoming one large, collective storm of suffering.” And it’s true. We’ve all been there.
A Stormy Time that is Heartbreaking
However, a while back we had a doozy of a storm hit us. It sent us reeling and heartbroken! This “storm” in itself would have been extremely difficult for us to deal with —all on its own. But when other matters of concern piled on too, it was especially tough to handle.
Thankfully, God helped us to navigate our way through this stormy time as we continually went to Him as our “Wonderful Counselor.” Diving into scripture, talking all of this out with Him and with each other, reading other supportive material, depending upon the prayers and counsel of close friends to hold us up, got us through this.
During that stormy time there wasn’t much smiling going on, though, in our home. There were lots of tears shed, and not many smiles. Sometimes we even wondered if we’d ever smile again. Have you been there?
But we held tightly onto hope and faith in Jesus that we could get to a less turbulent time, again. Soon, Lord Jesus, we kept saying, please make it soon. At the time, though, it seemed like it would never end.
Live, Learn, and Pass It On
They say it’s not just what we LIVE THROUGH, but what we LEARN THROUGH, and pass on to others that is most important. And we learned through a lot!
Diving into God’s Word and continually praying was most important! But in the book, “Why?” Anne Graham Lotz makes some good points that also helped us. She writes about the storms she was experiencing. She writes that her first reaction was to escape the hurt. (Sound familiar? Don’t we usually want to escape, rather than work through that, which is hurting us?)
Anne brings out a strange but insightful point in how we deal with pain. She writes:
“I understand that a turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest. It spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reaction to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle?”
Storm Related Reactions
Sadly, we often act like turkeys. We confess that’s true for us. Our first reaction, when a difficult storm hits, is to try to escape and/or hide. But the Lord doesn’t let us stay in hiding. He coaxes (or throws) us out of hiding and ultimately says, “Come, let us reason together.”
Other times He allows us to stay in a place where we have to trust Him in His silence. We’re learning that it’s all part of our Faith Walk on this side of Heaven. Sometimes we can’t even reason with Him. That’s when we have to acknowledge that His wisdom is more than we can comprehend, and lean into our faith in Him and trust, trust, trust!
It’s important to note, though, that there is a difference between withdrawing to get your bearings (so you can come out and approach matters in a wiser way) and withdrawing to hide. The first can be wise (as long as you don’t wait too long). But the second is more “turkeyish,” if we can use that term.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t want to do what it takes to be an eagle. It takes bravery to step outside our comfort zones when all we want to do is withdraw.
Choices During a Stormy Time
During times of trial, there are two choices given in how we handle matters. We can go at them in our own way and TURN AWAY from God’s presence and His guidance. Or we can LOOK TO HIM as our Lord to be with us through the whole ordeal — trusting Him to redeem the whole mess in some way eventually.
Step-by-step —it’s trusting GOD’S heart that He will make a way to bring good out of all of this. We trust… even though we can’t see it as we’re traveling along in this journey.
Anne Graham Lotz talked in her book about a particularly important day, as she was putting her trust in God. All of a sudden she imagined “a smile of infinite tenderness on His face as the angels in heaven applauded. ‘Anne, you’re finally getting it. Now you’re beginning to understand one of the reasons why God has allowed these bad things to happen.’”
Anne goes on to write:
“Looking back over that eighteen-month period, my thoughtful, confident conclusion is that God allowed the storms of suffering to increase and intensify in my life. This is because He wanted me to soar higher in my relationship with Him. He wanted me to fall deeper in love with Him, and to grow stronger in faith in Him. God wanted me to be more consistent in my walk with Him. He wanted me to bear more fruit in my service to Him. And He wanted me to draw closer to His heart —to keep my focus on His face, and to live for His glory alone!”
If we keep our focus on Him, we can learn through that, which we live through. We can gain comfort from God, “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
That’s a wonderful place to be, but it often takes a very difficult journey to get there.
Are you experiencing God’s “smile” and are you seeing a little bit of God’s plan in the storm you’re experiencing? Or are you still finding yourself slipping further down into a pit of confusion and/or despair?
Sinking in the Stormy Time
If you are, here’s one more thing to prayerfully consider. In her blog titled, Help I’m Sinking, Sue Tipler writes that she feels like giving up and giving in sometimes. The old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them” applies.
Her situation (and ours) may be different, but we can find commonality as we experience that sinking feeling.
In one such situation, a friend asked Sue (who was experiencing that sinking feeling at that time) what it feels like to live day in and day out in an unequally yoked marriage. Sue replied:
“It feels like being in quicksand. You don’t even realize you’re in it until it’s too late. And the more you struggle to get out, the deeper you sink in.
“’I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters. The floods engulf me.’ (Psalm 69:2)
“I need a big stick to pull me out, and for me, it’s my Bible study and Christian friends. But when my husband gets home it’s like the stick gets covered in oil and I can’t hang on.
“Renee gave me some encouragement in addition to her response to my e-mail. …She asked me to do some research on quicksand to see if there’s anything spiritual there. So, I did. I learned some things and God spoke to me.
“First, real quicksand is rarely deep enough for you to perish. Secondly, it’s true that if you struggle and thrash around, you’ll only sink deeper. Third, how do you escape the mire? Relax, move slowly, look up and let the quicksand move you into a floating position.
“So, what was God trying to say to me in this seemingly benign information? First, God will not let you sink so far you can’t get out. He will rescue you. ’Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink.’ (Psalm 69:14)
“Second, if you struggle and thrash around you will sink deeper. (Do you remember Peter when he tried to walk on water on his own?)
“Third: How to escape? Relax, look UP, and let God put you in a position to be floating on top of the situation instead of being mired in it.
“I didn’t need a stick. I only need Him. Even if you don’t see anything happening in your spouse’s life, you can relax:
“’Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’ (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
“’…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.“ (Hebrews 12:2)
Thank you, Lord, for the ways you minister through your word and through others who minister to us!
How we pray all of this ministers to you, as it has to us! A prayer of our hearts for you (and for us) is something John Piper wrote:
“May God grant a special grace to you who are groaning under some burden. Look eagerly for the new tenderness of love God is imparting to you even now.”
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2)
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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