29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. - Psalm 107:29-30
So we read earlier in this section of Psalm 107 about storms that the sailors mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end. Psalm 107:26-27. We’ve all been on that roller coaster when the storms begin to rage in our lives, our emotions ride up and down based on how we’re viewing our trial in the moment. Even when we try to bring it to Him, the temptations we experience pull us back down to those depths, our courage fails and we end up reeling and staggering in the weight of our trials. Our minds race to all the worst possible scenarios, we begin to problem solve in our own power, we try to take control of others’ responses - it’s a vicious cycle. We never just suffer the thing we're suffering...we suffer through the thinking that the suffering brings into our lives.
If we ever hope to get off the roller coaster of emotions we ride in the trials of our lives, it’s important to get at the root of why we are tempted to take control. When I dig down under my emotions in a trial, I have usually found that I am doubting God’s goodness, I am trapped in worry, or I am struggling with envy. Each of these are temptations that will take me on a roller coaster ride of emotions in my trials.
Doubt questions the goodness of God. Doubt asks questions like, where is God in all this? Why would He do this to me? The problem with doubting God’s goodness in a trial is that we stop going to Him for help - we won’t go to someone we don’t trust for help. In the moment we need Him the most, we don’t turn to Him because we don’t trust in His goodness. When I’m struggling with this temptation, I return to the truth of Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. If you struggle with this temptation like I do at times, we can know that God promises to work all things out for the good of those who love Him. If you love Him and have given your life to Him, you can have the confidence that He will work this trial out for your good. You may not be able to see the good right now, but the God of the universe doesn’t make promises He can’t keep and it’s impossible for Him to lie. He tells you that He will work it out, He will in His timing. We just need to be patient. Grab a hold of His promises and watch your storms be stilled. My life verse is Psalm 27:13-14 and has calmed more storms in my life than I can even remember because I am reminded He is in control: 13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. I do not need to despair because He will reign in this trial, and my job is to simply wait on Him.
Worry question the presence of God. We have such a tendency to beat ourselves up with questions we don't have the answers to when the trials hit. Worry is forgetful, it forgets that you are not in this suffering by yourself. It is impossible for you to beat this by yourself, so stop worrying. Stop assigning yourself a responsibility that you don't have <—that’s such a powerful truth I need to be reminded of so frequently. We simply don't have the ability to work through this by ourselves. When I am caught in the trap of worry, I remind myself of the truth in 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. He is here with us, and He will not let us be overwhelmed. He promises a way out. The problem when we are caught in the trap of worry, we often won’t see the way out that He’s providing because we’re too busy trying to figure out how to do it ourselves. His way of escape may be the encouragement to endure offered by a fellow believer, reminding you that you are not alone, it may be wisdom and direction offered by that friend, or a new perspective offered as we open the Word in our quiet time, it may be the strength to endure offered by someone who has walked the path and can give us direction. But far too often, worry fills our mind and blocks our ability to see His way of escape. We’re too busy trying to manage our trials on our own that we discount the advice or dismiss the encouragement offered by a friend, or we don’t have the time to get into His Word because worry has overtaken our schedule. God promises to be with us in this trial, and He is faithful to provide a way of escape.
Envy questions the wisdom of God. When the waves rise, sometimes we have a tendency to look at other people’s lives and wonder why they never seem to struggle. It’s the belief that God got the wrong address, and that we’ve had to endure too much in our lives. Why do I have to go though yet another trial? Haven’t I proven myself enough? Why does her life seem to be charmed? Envy doesn’t long for God, it longs to exchange places with someone else. Envy questions the purpose of the trial, and the wisdom of God in dealing it out. When I find myself struggling with the purpose of and wisdom in my trial, I turn to James 1. I could include the whole chapter here as a reference - every verse in it has calmed some storm in my life, but here are just a few of the most relevant: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12. These verses remind me of His sovereignty and His purpose in the trials is face - He is growing me and transforming me so that some day I may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Clearly if I continue to endure trials, I’m not there yet.
I would by lying if I didn’t say I’ve struggled with all three of these temptations since my diagnosis became real. But each time one of these thoughts crept in and threatened to destroy the calm waters He offers, I return to the truths found in His Word. He promises good will come of this trial, He is faithful to be with me and to provide a way of escape, and He has a purpose in this trial that includes refining me to be more like Christ. I remain so thankful for the peace and calm waters He offers as an alternative to the stormy seas in our trials.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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