Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In the Midst of the Storm

Ka-boom! The crashing thunder blasted a mere split-second after the lightning flashed. Hard on its heels another volley ricocheted. Again and again and again the sound and the noise exploded in dramatic harmony.

We don’t get thunderstorms like that very often in southern California. Cocooned in a downy comforter on my couch, I was kind of enjoying it.

lightning 2

My dogs, however, were a different story.

My puppy, Duchess, was badly frightened. This was her first thunderstorm, and she did not like it. Each blast caused her to cower in fear, whimpering. I held her on my lap, calmly speaking words of encouragement. Though I pet her soothingly, neither my touch nor my words were of any consolation to her. She only felt her fear, and refused to be comforted. Only as the storm subsided did her quivering calm, and she relaxed.

On the other hand our older dog, Daisy, had been through a few of these storms. She was definitely on alert, and sat tucked close into my side, eyes firmly fixed on me. When lightning lit up the room and the thunder exploded, she just kept looking at me, confident that if I wasn’t worried, she didn’t need to be either.

In the midst of the storms of life, we each get to choose how we react.

Some of us react like Duchess, who was needlessly afraid. I was with her, but as she reacted to her circumstances she could not even hear the encouragement I offered. My touch didn’t even register, because her fear of the storm was bigger than her trust in me.

Others react like Daisy, who allowed my presence to determine her reaction. My touch and my voice were what she listened to, far more than she listened to the tumult around her. She certainly didn’t sleep through the storm, but it didn’t cause her turmoil, either.

The storms of life are hard, and they are inevitable. They bring noise and confusion and scary possibilities. But our reactions are determined by what we focus on. We don’t have to like the storms, but the only way to have peace through them is to listen for the voice of the One who controls it. To recognize His presence in the midst, close to us. To draw near to Him and take comfort from His whispers of encouragement, allowing Him to still our fear and determine our response.

Ultimately, God wants us to trust Him, not—like Duchess—after the storm, but—like Daisy—in the midst of it.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.                                        John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”                             John 16:33

Further reflection:

1. Have you endured one of those storms in life yet? If so, describe it.

2. Did you react in fear, or by focusing on God?

3. If you reacted in fear, what could you do differently next time to respond in faith instead?

Father, You have indeed overcome the world. During all the storms of life You are there, near and offering solace. Please help me be more aware of Your presence than I am of the storm itself. Deepen my trust in You, help me hear Your voice, and allow Your presence to determine my response.

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