By: Shirley Rosario
When a storm comes, many of us are often unprepared. Unfortunately, we get wet if we don't have an umbrella. Today, I not only want to talk about storms, I want to touch on things that happen in our lives which bring unexpected changes. Many times we do not know how to handle adverse situations, or we believe we have the intellectual capacity to solve everything with our own strength, and we forget our dependence on God in our lives. We must remember to lean on God and our faith, not our knowledge.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)
When these times of uncertainty and affliction arrive, the devil wants to take away the peace that Jesus left us. Jesus has already conquered him, so we cannot allow the enemy to fill our minds with negative thoughts that affect our daily lives.
When I reflect on everything that 2020 brought us, I feel like many of us lacked preparation. Our minds were influenced by what the news told us, or by the negative comments that other people made on social media. The Word of God tells us that in this world we will have afflictions, difficulties, and moments of tragedy. But, we have to look on the bright side at all times and trust that God is going to help us get through all these temporary stormy moments or seasons. We have to hear the good news that God is always there in every storm in our lives.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:13 (NLT)
How do we prepare for those bad days and storms and protect ourselves from spiritual battles? The Word of God is clear when Paul writes in this epistle of Ephesians that our struggles are not from human enemies, but spiritual ones. We must resist the enemy, who wants us to doubt our faith and not believe that Jesus conquered on the cross. When we are strong in our faith and those stormy times come in our lives, we can be confident God will be there. Our faith will help us remain steadfast until the storm in our life stops, passes, or reaches the end.
In the beginning of 2020, we began to hear about a virus that was threatening humans worldwide. Alarming international news arrived in our country about incredible numbers of deaths and a virus spreading amazingly. The messages on media outlets were constantly “Stay home,” and many switched to a new lifestyle of family, work, school, and spirituality. This was a storm in the lives of so many, and to be honest, I was alarmed and listened to the news and blurred the Word of God. But, I resolved that those desperate moments would have to come to an end. As a daughter of God, my almighty Father extended His arms and, little by little, showed me a new, renewed walk, and my faith was strengthened because I knew He was there with me.
When I think about all the things I have gone through this year, I can share that I am grateful for everything God allowed me to see or experience. Because amid the sadness, bitterness, loss, tears, and despair of many without hope, I could see how God strengthened. Amid the anguish and cries, I saw the hand of God bringing comfort. When we did not know what would happen, and there were moments of uncertainty and fear of tomorrow, God brought hope and removed fears. When people started storing away toilet paper, paper towels, and there were shortages of Clorox disinfectants and hand sanitizers, I saw how many shared with their family, neighbors, and friends. When many felt lonely, they found friends who brought joy to their lives. When many were unemployed, they were able to see God's provision in their lives. In the middle of a forced quarantine, I was able to reconnect with people who were part of my life. In the middle of the pandemic, families started gathering to pray and look for God's presence. There was reconciliation and forgiveness. In the middle of the chaos, many fought for justice and to overcome racism. I saw a church growing strong and crying out to God for peace. They knew that God was and will always be there when we cry out to Him.
There will always be two sides to the coin: there will be moments of happiness and moments of sadness, and there will be people who encourage us to continue with our dreams and others who criticize us negatively. In times of storms in our lives, we know that we can count on our family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ who will support us, but it will be God who will strengthen us every day. Let's not forget that a storm is only temporary, and that afterward, a radiant sun will come out and a beautiful day will start again.
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23 (HCSB)