I recently walked through a storm in life.
It was not one that I saw coming for days as the clouds moved in, although I have experienced those in the past. Rather, this was a storm that came out of nowhere and was violent...shook me to my core. While I think the worst is over, I can still feel the wind in my hair.
I will not elaborate on the details of the storm. It was personal, close to home, and would not be beneficial to make my point. What I want to talk about and share is what I learned in the storm...how I was changed and refined...the ever-molding into Christ-likeness that He calls us to...
So here is my advise if you are walking through a storm...and if you are not right now, then it will come...I once heard a pastor say that you are either in a storm, just came out of one, or headed into one...that's just life.
In a very soul penetrating way, be reminded that In Christ Alone our hope is found. Psalm 65:2 says "Yes, my soul; find rest in God! My hope comes from Him." What a simple staple of the Christian faith, but one we often brush to the side. Jesus is the lover of our souls and when we minimize Him in our list of priorities, our soul becomes out of sync or balance with Him. We easily set up idols that can take His place. Remember that He needs to be number one in your heart, mind, and life!
Take your thoughts captive! Goodness...what a battlefield we have between our ears. The devil is sly and vicious. He has come to kill and destroy...not just our flesh, but our spirits. He robs us of joy and peace and fills us with worry and anxiety (if we let him). But Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:18 "I have been given all authority in Heaven and on earth." We are on the winning team brothers and sisters! We can have the victory in the battle of our minds! So strive to live out 2 Corinthians 10:5 and demolish every argument and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and take EVERY thought captive and make it obedient to Christ! What is obedience to Christ you may ask? Philippians 4:8 tells us whatever is true, noble, right, pure, whatever is lovely, admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think of THESE things! Take those thoughts captive!
There is a real battle that is going on in this world, and we can not "pretend" it is not there. I am a peace-keeper and a people-pleaser by nature. I don't like tension. I will avoid an argument or a hard conversation like the plague! However, God calls us to be peace-makers and GOD-pleasers! This, I must learn...this, I must live! So, ask the tough questions, have the hard conversations, and seek to please God in it all rather than man!
Use the storm as a time to grow. I truly believe that God sent that tragedy, problem, person, situation, in your life to grow you into His likeness. So don't sit on the beach or hide in the trees, but get out there in the water and ride those waves of refinement...knowing Who your Anchor is in the battles of life.
Be the victor, not the victim. Goodness, this is hard. We want people to feel sorry for us...to feel our pain...to see the hurt...to feel the guilt...but they don't, and they won't. Thankfully, the only one who really matters sees every tear and hears every cry. God is there with you, my friend, and He is a God who is a VICTOR! He has already won the battle, so let Him fight for you! It's OK to cry, to be real, to have bad days, but don't stay there...take a deep breath and put on the armor of Christ and be the victor He calls you to be.
You need to be able to talk and process. Things that are left in the mind (thoughts) are in the dark and the Bible says that is the Devil's playground. Bringing stuff into the light is a place where God can begin to heal you, help you process, and then move on. Be wise who you chose to be that sounding board. Pray for someone who is walking with the Lord, someone who will point you to Him, someone who will let you cry, listen to you, and then pick you up and push you straight toward the truth, the Lover of your soul!
Watch what you put into your mind! When I was a little girl, I remember listening to a song that went like this: Input, output, what goes in is what comes out, Input, output, that is what it's all about, Input, output, your mind is a computer boost Input, output, daily we must choose. It's true...we live in a world where "knowledge" is at your fingertips on the internet, but is that the kind of knowledge that we need? Wisdom! Wisdom is the key...and the Bible is clear that the beginning of wisdom comes from the Lord. Seek the Lord...input HIS Word into your mind! Watch what you read, consider the source...yes, the world screams "knowledge" but we want to be WISE!
Don't Feed it...don't give it air time...don't enjoy the pit...change the station in your mind...don't dwell. It does you, and those around you, absolutely no good to stay in that pit...so cry, grieve, be sad, but don't stay there! Learn to distinguish the voice of lies with the voice of TRUTH.
Look for the Rainbow...don't keep dwelling on the storm...look ahead, not back. On the same line of thought, don't stress about the future. Live in the moment. For today has enough worries of it's own.
Be thankful for the refinement. God is good and He gives good gifts. He promises us in Romans 8:28 that He can make good come out of ANYTHING! Look for the GOOD...count your blessings...be thankful. It's impossible to be sad, mad, hurt, etc. when you are THANKFUL!
So those are my tid-bits of "life-learned the hard way" to-dos, and not-to-do in the storms of life. I am sure I will come back and read them very soon...I really wrote this for me, because I really do forget and need to be reminded!