“I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys.
I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through.
For if I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He could solve them.
I wouldn’t know what faith in God can do.”
We had barely been married a month and were still unpacking when we were forced to evacuate our home, running from an impending category five hurricane. That’s when I was hit harder than ever with the fact I am never going to be strong enough to be in control, no matter what.
Storms can teach you more than you think you are ready to learn. It’s hurricane season. Around my coastal city in Florida, that means being on constant alert to what is going on in the tropics. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and a few other monsters have made their mark on the United States and neighboring islands over the past few months. As Irma approached our coast I can honestly say I was emotionally unprepared, no matter how many shutters we put up.
Not only were the winds raging here in South Florida, but there was chaos raging in my heart and mind that superseded the highest strength. I was scared. I was anxious and I felt hopelessly concerned for my family, my home, and all the people in the path of the hurricane.
Part of the reason my anxiety seemed so out of control was because of the information I was feeding into. Most of the time what we see on social media or even the news isn’t the full, unaltered scenario. We are seeing life through filters, edits and many times, hype. More often than not, when trouble arises, the media chooses to manipulate our senses with heightened facts and—even at times—made up circumstances. In the days leading up to the hurricane there were all sorts of photos and stories floating around of extreme devastation of some areas that were later discovered to not even be relevant to the current storm. It was, as the kids are saying nowadays, “FAKE NEWS.”
Yes, those of us bracing for the approaching storm were prepared but we also found ourselves having to filter through what was real and what wasn’t. It became exhausting. I couldn’t turn on my computer or the television without hearing words like “catastrophic” or “you could die!”
There were magazines flying off the shelves about global warming, the world ending, and how they think everything is the government’s fault. Sometimes we simply need to let a storm be a storm and stop trying to justify why it’s happening. Storms are heavy and they are rough but if you are willing to learn, you will be amazed by what a storm and its Maker can teach you.
Just like Jesus reached out to Peter bidding him to step into the waters, my heart felt the same. I trusted God, at least I say I did, but when I was forced to step out onto the roaring waters and it became real, I sank deep and my focus was on the waves. I realized while the conditions raged around me that I was just like Peter. I had read and experienced this story before but never like this. I remembered I had been praying countless prayers to know Jesus better and walk with Him closer, but when He bid me to come into a storm I’d never faced before, I assumed He was wrong and could not keep me in it.
“But the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid'” (Matthew 14:24-27, ESV).
I know now more than ever that “sometimes He calms the storm but sometimes in calms you in it.” They aren’t meant to be easy but they happen everyday. When you step out into the storm or while you are in the boat in the thick of it, you are at the mercy of Someone who created the entire universe and thinks more highly of you than anything.
As the bands of a powerful hurricane were sweeping through my state, I stepped outside for a moment and felt completely powerless but strangely in awe and at peace. This was nothing like I’d ever seen or felt before. As the winds thrashed and tree limbs fell, I was speechless but my faith in Christ was rising.
You may currently be facing your toughest situation; your darkest days; your hardest fight, but stand therefore. The same God who gave strength to David to defeat the bear and the lion before he could graduate to a giant slayer, is the same God strengthening and pushing you to new dimensions of resilience and power. Ask Him to help you learn what He is teaching you in the season you are in. Don’t try and run when it gets difficult, but take heart in knowing He didn’t bring you this far to fail you now. Don’t believe the “fake news.” Instead, do as the Word of God says:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Rachel Skirvin is a lover of travel, nachos and the gospel. She is a graduate of Urshan College and will most likely always call it Gateway. She just recently married her best friend and together they are serving at the Pentecostals of Cooper City in South Florida.