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You’re not alone in life’s storms
Amber Albee Swenson
by Amber Albee Swenson
September 11, 2023

In my young adult years, unshakable faith came easy. But recently—maybe because of an awareness of so many seemingly impossible situations or maybe because I understood my own helplessness—I started to feel like Peter taking his first steps outside the boat in the middle of the lake as he walked toward Jesus (see Matthew 14).

The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (9:11).

That’s good news for those of us who aren’t particularly agile or exceedingly astute. No one can outrun the craziness of life. Storms come. Relationships strain. Satan’s demonic army and our sinful natures lure us into situations that can only be fixed with the hard work of unraveling damage and bearing consequences and falling entirely into the arms of God’s grace as we dig out and start over.

I recently read an account of the different responses cows and buffalo have to storms. Cows sense a storm and run away from it. They’re not smart enough to realize they aren’t fast. The storm catches up, and because they are running with the storm, they stay in the storm for an extended period of time.

Buffalos sense a storm coming and run toward it and through it. They spend no time worrying about the storm and waste no energy trying to outrun it.

I’m not suggesting that if we just put our heads down and sprint into the storm, everything will be okay. A lot of things that come into our lives—inflation, job loss, hurricanes—are out of our control.

Pretending we’re not in a somewhat catastrophic situation doesn’t work either. We’ll still be in the situation, whether we acknowledge it or not. Cowering with the hope that someone else will do something is a bit like running with the cows. We’ll be in that storm a whole lot longer while we wait for someone to come to our rescue.

If we want to get through the storms with the least amount of angst and the greatest outcome, we’ll learn to look up and look out.

First, we look up. Our impossible situations are opportunities for God to show his power.

In Mark 9 we learn about a man who sought Jesus with his impossible situation. His son was demon possessed, and the demon robbed the boy of his speech and often threw him to the ground. Jesus told the man who had a wavering faith, “Everything is possible for the one who believes” (Mark 9:23).

If we’re not taking our impossible situations to God, we’re depending on our own meager strength. If we determine the situation to be too big for God (cue hand-wringing and the multitude of complaints that sound something like, “I think the world is ending. Things are too far gone. I just don’t see a way out of this.”), we are like those cows running away from the storm, only for the storm to stay with us indefinitely.

Look up and enlist the One who controls the wind and waves, who allows seemingly impossible situations in our lives but promises to work things for our good (Romans 8:28).

 Second, look out. Enlist the help of Christians who will pray for you and encourage you.

When I recently found myself in a situation that seemed to be never-ending and always complicated, I called multiple people and asked for prayers. I was worn out from the struggle. They took over, not just with their prayers but through their encouragement to me. For the first time in a long time, breakthrough happened.

As long as we’re in this world broken by sin, storms will keep happening. We will continue to be in situations far too big to handle. But they aren’t too big for God, and we weren’t meant to go through storms alone.