This morning's reading talked about storms. Disappointments. Sickness. Friendships that end. Jobs that no longer support the family. Lose, and the repercussions that follow it. Pain, plain and simple.
The mighty oak tree is made strong by the wind and rain that beat against it. "It is in the midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fiber and becomes the king of the forest." Are we the same way? Are we letting the storms of life make us, or break us?
Are we becoming bent over and ugly, or standing up and letting the wind blow the dead leaves off?
You can read Streams in the Desert online, but it is set up differently there. They are out of order, or at least in a different order then the book I have. Strangely enough, their devotion was about storms today too. "Faith grows amid storms" was the battle cry, and one I couldn't help but respond to.
Several months ago, when we were waiting, and questioning and thinking that good things were never coming, God gave me a couple verses to hang on to. Romans 5:3-4 and James 1:2 are really quite similar, focusing on what we learn through trials, or, shall we say storms. I wrote them down and have carried them in my purse for months now. The poor little notecard is bent and tattered, and the purple ink is beginning to bleed, but the verses stay true and still give me peace.
"We can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us - they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady." Rom 5:3-4 Living Translation
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that your may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2 NKJV
One thing I realized that wasn't mentioned in today's devotional is that after the storm, at least here in modern times, a storm blows all the trash that was laying around into the forefront. Usually into the front yard for everyone to see. We thought the trash was mostly buried, or at least neatly confined in the back yard, inside the fence, perhaps even under the dog house where no one would ever notice it. The howling winds do more then just beat at the door, they rearrange the back yard too. After the storm, when the ground is fresh with rain, and the sun is shining again, can we be wise enough to pick up all that trash while it is blown loose and easy to get to?
Don't let the trash settle back in and get comfortable in it's new location. Take it to the dump where it belongs and get rid of it once and for all.
In the end, don't let the storm make you feel weighted down or overwhelmed. Choose to be refreshed and strengthened, and get to work! We are oaks. We rejoice in, and are made strong and beautiful by, the storms.