Girlfriends in God - Nov. 19, 2009

November 19, 2009 

Strength for the Storm 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
James 1:2-3 "Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow" (NLT).

Friend To Friend 
When golf balls were first manufactured, their covers were smooth. Golfers soon discovered that after a ball had been roughed up a bit they were able to get more distance out of it. Manufacturers then began producing golf balls with dimpled covers.  Life is a lot like that. It takes some rough spots to make us go our farthest.  It takes some storms to teach us that God is faithful and will provide the strength to stand firm. 

The Apostle Paul knew all about storms. As a fully devoted follower of Christ, Paul was despised, slandered, mistreated, abused and poor. He had every right to be angry and distressed but instead chose joy. "We own nothing, and yet we have everything" (2 Corinthians 6:8-10 NLT).

I never fully understood the amazing truth behind Paul's words because I had never really lived their truth - until 1995 - when I found myself sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark pit. Clinical depression, the psychologists and physicians called it. The name was irrelevant to me. All I knew was that it was the most hellish place I had ever been and I had absolutely no idea how to escape. I was paralyzed and totally helpless - the perfect setting for a miracle! Sitting at the feet of Jesus, stripped of my human efforts and impotent plans, I discovered the life changing truth that He did not come to eliminate the storms in my life. He came to fill those storms with His presence. I was not delivered from that pit until I was first delivered in that pit. 

The highest joy will come through the greatest pain. The greater the pain, the more we are forced to search for and cling to the hand of God! That only happens when we choose the right attitude toward pain. Here it is: "Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow" (James 1:2-3 NLT).

When was the last time you threw a party to celebrate the trials and storms in your life?  Hurricane parties are common practice in South Florida where we lived for many years.  Knowing that the loss of electricity was likely, we would empty our refrigerator, inviting neighbors and friends to join us in celebrating the fact that the storm had come and gone and we were still standing. God's ways are higher than our ways and most human reactions are in direct opposition to the paradoxical ways of God. Honestly, there are times when what He has asked me to do simply does not make sense - to me - and there we find the problem. Faith is a matter of blind obedience, not human logic. At the heart of every storm is victory, just waiting to be claimed. The words of James offer the perfect perspective for every life storm. 

As I mentioned earlier, I can't sew a straight seam, so when my sister began doing needlepoint, I was duly impressed. One day, she pulled out her latest project, a small Christmas pillow. It was beautiful! "Turn it over," she said. The back was a mess of knots and mismatched thread going in every direction. Then the thought hit me. We question God, asking why life is such a mess, railing against every emotional "knot" and questioning the circumstances that don't seem to match our lives. I can almost hear Him say, "Yes, but you should see it from my point of view. It is beautiful!" 

As women and daughters of the King, we have a different point of view for every life experience. It is a manger, a cruel cross, an empty tomb and eternity itself. That viewpoint changes everything. It makes our hearts sing and our souls dance with the truth that we can always count on His joy in us to face the storms around us! It is the reason we do what we do. 

What storm is raging in your life? What step do you need to take in order to exchange your strength for His? Your Father stands ready to meet you in your darkest hour. He longs to wrap His arms around you until the winds die down and the waves are stilled.  Surrender. Yield to His presence and power. Celebrate the storm that dashed your battered life on the shores of His unyielding love and praise Him. He really does provide the strength and power to endure every storm.

Let's Pray 
Father, my life is such a mess! I am tired and frustrated and can feel the edge of the darkness closing in. I'm desperate for You, Lord. I'm lost without You. I feel like a piece of taffy, being pulled in a thousand different directions. No one seems to understand, Lord, but You. So I come to You right now with my broken heart, hands open and holding nothing back. I sit at Your feet and wait for the storm to pass. I love you, Father.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn  

  • Read and memorize Psalm 46:1"God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble" (NRSV). Every time you face a storm today, remember where your strength is found. 
  • Describe your greatest life storm. What was your response to that storm?  What truth did the storm yield? 
  • Examine the following list of character traits. How have your life storms encouraged growth in each area?  Explain.  


      Love _____

      Power _____

      Patience _____

      Kindness _____

      Understanding _____

More From The Girlfriends 
Storms are a reality of life. It is not a matter of if a storm will come - but when it will come. We can try running from storms or pretending they don't exist but the only effective way to deal with the storms of life is to make sure God is in the midst of each storm with you. Turn to Him. Invite Him to take up residence in your storm. He will still the waves and calm the seas ... and be with you.

Be sure to visit Mary's online store where you will find books, CDs, new E-Book Bible Studies and MP3 downloads just out!

Want to get on track in your daily bible study? Take a look at Mary's weekly online bible study, Light for the Journey

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.

Originally published Thursday, 19 November 2009.