“What does it mean to trust in God when the storm hits? During times of struggle and suffering?” This is the question I asked myself 2 years ago. I don’t know the answer; I do not know if there is any ONE answer. But what I do know is that when times of struggle come, God is there. He is there in times of joy and peace, and in times of pain and struggles.
“I have spoken these things to you so that you shall have peace in me. You shall have suffering in the world, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English) — John 16:33
September 2014 I found myself asking God to show me how to trust Him more than I already did. I had joined staff at a Youth With A Mission base in Australia and was staffing YWAM DTS’s back to back. Being on the mission field for the previous 2 years with YWAM, I would say I had a pretty good trusting relationship with God. He had been bringing me through a season of healing from past traumas and self-destructive habits from the past, and I was falling more in love with Him every day. I was walking into a new level of freedom in Jesus I had never known before. But as every person who is steadfastly seeking God, I wanted more. Living overseas in YWAM I was consistently hearing stories of others going through seasons of trials and tribulations that although were painful, ultimately brought them closer to the Lord. The Holy Spirit within me was beginning to stir in my heart the sense that a storm was coming, something that would require me leaning on Him more than I thought was possible...
When the storm hit while I was in Australia, I cried out to God, needing Him to help me through because without Him I could not continue on. I felt like I was drowning with no one to help me and pull me back up. I was afraid. But when I cried out to God, He was right there with me, His Spirit gave me comfort and protected me from those who would try to harm me, He gave me strength when I was weak, He gave me peace when I wanted to fall into anxiety and despair. I had asked God to show me how to trust Him more… and it was because He allowed me to go through the storm that I got what I had asked for. I finally was learning to rest my head on His shoulder and be kept safe by Him. I felt like a little girl who just needed to feel safe in the arms of her daddy. God kept me safe, He gave me comfort and strength to continue to journey onwards.
Going through times of suffering means something different to every person. It could mean the death of a loved one — a child, a spouse, a parent. It could mean a time of feeling lost and not knowing a way out. A time of trials in any given situation for a period of time. For me, a time of suffering is marked by fear, the loss of trust in someone I loved, feeling unsafe, a sense of depression mixed with desperation. There is one thing I know from my personal seasons of suffering, and that truth is that God is there. He promised us there there will be suffering in this world. There will be trials and tribulation, and this applies to those who are walking with the Lord and those who are not. Having a relationship with God and living for Him does not “solve all of our problems”. It does not guarantee us a lifetime of happiness or security. However it does guarantee us a life of finding peace in God through the hard times, and being secure in knowing that we belong to God. We are His children, His workmanship, His beloved. Just as He is our Father, our Saviour, our First Love and Beloved.
“One day He got into a boat with His disciples, and He said to them, 'Let us go across to the other side of the lake.' So they out out, and as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke Him, saying 'Master, Master, we are perishing!' And He awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marvelled, saying to one another, 'Who then is this, that He commands even winds and water, and they obey Him?'"
(English Standard Version) — Luke 8:22-25
I was afraid Just like when Jesus and His disciples were crossing the lake and a great storm hit. The disciples were terrified! They woke Jesus and said “Master! Master! We are perishing!” They believed that they were going to die, and even more, they didn’t know if Jesus cared. When we go through storms, we often find ourselves crying out to God and asking, “Where are You!?” “Don’t You see I am suffering?” Fear gets ahold of us and makes it easy for us to take our eyes off of Him who has the power to calm the storm and see us through. But Jesus' response was simply, "Where is your faith?" Do you still not trust Me yet?
When trials and suffering hit there is one thing to do — trust in God. He holds the world in the palm of His hands, He sees us and He knows us. He will never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5).
When we go through trials, the first thing we must do is look into the eyes of our Father. Choose to trust in Him and His enduring love. Trusting God is a choice, just like loving Him is a choice. Yes, by walking with Him over time we develop a loving, trusting relationship with Him. But the true love and trust come from consistently choosing to love and trust Him. His promises are true. We must turn to God and cast our burdens upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
I don’t know what storms are ahead in my life, and I don’t know what storms are ahead for you. But no matter what comes our way, God is with us and will never leave us! He is strong when we are weak! And He will give us the strength to journey on!