The other night, my husband and I were talking about the state of our marriage, and we’ve noticed a surprising trend. When times get tough, we grow closer. Now, I know, according to the oft spoken clichés, that’s the way it’s supposed to happen, right? But I suspect it doesn’t always. During times of trial, families either grow closer or farther apart. In my opinion, the deciding factor is whether or not they have God’s holy, wise guidance and ever-present hand. Well, that and whether we honestly give Him an obedient ear. Because God is about unity. Peace. Love. Intimacy. And when you have God-given intimacy with those around you, an amazing thing happens. Though you fall, though you trip seven or seventy-seven times, you will get up again. Though it feels as if the world is spinning ruthlessly around you, you can and do endure.
I’ve shared, and will share again, this has been a rough year for our family, perhaps the most difficult we’ve faced in some time. For a while, it felt like the storm clouds pressing around us would never lift. But they did, and we’ve stepped out of our storm shelter stronger, closer to one another and to God, wiser, with one more wound healed and one more emotional layer peeled back.
The other day, as I was walking through our neighborhood, the sun bathing my face in warmth, the temperatures a pleasant fifty degrees despite the fact that we are in the middle of winter, I realized I was joyful. At peace. It’d been a while since I’d truly felt joy. And in that moment, I realized my storm had lifted, and reminded myself that storms don’t last forever. While we’re in them, they feel as if they will never let up, or as if they will tear us to shreds. But they won’t, because God won’t let them. And one day, they will lift and we will again feel the soothing warmth of the sun on our face.
Because though we trip, though we stumble, though we slide backward, we will get up again.
This morning I was reading in Psalm 18 and was reminded afresh of my heavenly Father’s ever-guiding, training hand.
God arms me with strength, and He makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You (God) have given me Your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; Your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping (NLT).
Scholars believe King David may have written this psalm toward the end of his life, during a time of peace. If you are familiar with David’s life, you will remember, much of it was anything but peaceful. In fact, he spent a fair amount of time in caves, hiding from King Saul who tried to kill him. And during his times of hiding, David cried out to God in despair. I imagine it felt as if his storm cloud would never lift.
But it did, and upon looking back, David was able to see God’s hand in every hurdle, storm cloud, and heartache.
If you are standing on the mountain top, rejoicing in God’s faithfulness, pause to remember some of the more difficult times in your life. How did you feel during those times? Did it seem like your struggle and pain would never end? But it did, right? Because God brought you through. Look at that/those experience/s through a God-lens. What did He show you about yourself? About Himself? Who did He bring alongside you during that tough time?
If you are still sheltering a storm, look up and look around. God is hovering over you, watching you, loving you. He will bring you through. And, I would almost guarantee, He’s brought you someone to come along beside you. Are you accepting their aid and support, or are you building barriers around your heart, barriers that may seem protective–safe–but in essence, are blocking the very love and care you long for?