Praise You in This Storm
No one gets through this life without storms. There are some folks who seem to think that if we become followers of Jesus that should somehow make us immune from trials—somehow, we can just pray troubles away, if we just have enough faith. But Jesus Himself told us that we would have troubles in this world (John 16:33), and He even said that He told us this fact to give us encouragement and peace. How would knowing we would face inevitable trouble give us peace? Because His promise of trouble meant that we shouldn’t be surprised by trouble, or think we have done something wrong when trouble comes our way. Trouble is the way of the world. And trouble is also God’s invitation to trust Him, to turn to Him, to rest in Him, and even to worship Him.
In Psalm 66 we are told to praise our God, in part because He has “tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance.” Notice that these trials were not merely something that befell them; God was the One who refined them and led them into these dark circumstances. Yet, the psalmist insists that this is a reason for praise, not for lament or complaining.
It is also interesting to note that He brought them through fire and water. Both of these were methods of cleansing and consecrating in the Old Testament rituals. Often when the warriors would bring home the spoils of war, they were commanded to pass through the fire anything that could withstand it, and wash those things which would not endure the fire, then these items would be purified for use. God knows if we can withstand the fire, or if we are better washed with the water. And whatever method He uses to cleanse us, His purpose is to make us fit for His own use. He refines us so that we shine with a new glory, our impurities are purged away.
Notice, too, that the trials were not an end in themselves, but a means—not merely for cleansing, but for abundance. Just as God was the One who took them through all these difficulties, He was the One who brought them to a place of abundance. His goal in our trials is always for our good, for blessing, for joy. We err when we think that “good” is always “pleasant.” Good means beneficial, and as parents we know that we often make our children endure what is less than pleasant because we know in the end what is beneficial for them. When our son was an infant and toddler he was very ill, and we sometimes had to hold him down while the medical personnel did unpleasant things to him in order to bring healing. With his limited knowledge he couldn’t understand that we were helping him, even as we were hurting him. And it is much the same in God’s ways with us.
The way we can come to that place of praising Him in the Storm is to learn to trust in His character, in unfailing goodness, and His steadfast love. Is He wise? Does He know all things? Does He have the power to do all His will? Is He good? Does He love us? Hopefully, we can answer all these questions in the affirmative, but we are looking for more than the Sunday School answer here. If we truly believe all these things about Him, then when we face our storms we can praise Him that He is wise enough to know how to ordain our lives, especially since He knows how it will all work out eternally (and we don’t!). We can praise Him for His goodness, believing as Joseph did that what men meant for evil, God means for good; He will bring us to that place of abundance—either here or in eternity. We can praise Him that all He does is done in love—a love we cannot even imagine, since it was a love that motivated Him to give His own life for us.
Our storms may be terrifying, excruciating, confusing, heartbreaking and, at times, seemingly endless, but the One brought them to us and sees us through them is the One who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, to daily bear our burdens, and to give us eternal joy in His presence.