Have you ever had one of those days when if it can go wrong, it does? We all experience times when dissolving into tears or speaking sharp words to our family become tempting releases for the pressure bubbling inside. We don’t want it to happen, but sometimes circumstances push our limits. We not only see the storms coming, but we are standing in the middle of the storm.
Maybe the baby cried all night and you received a call to come in early to work. Or your workday was stressful, and afterward you drove all over creation taking your kids to their activities. Now you don’t have time to fix dinner—a quick trip through the local drive-in will have to do before tackling their homework. Then you walk into the house and the AC is broken.
Just the other day, our carefully planned annual family vacation unraveled in the space of a few hours. One of our sons had emergence surgery. My husband and I got a phone call about the death of a mentor-friend, which might mean flying to another city for the funeral during our vacation week. And a daughter-in-law was notified she will have to work and cannot take off. Then our son who had surgery began to experience complications. Hysteria crept up my spine and slithered around my shoulders.
How can we ward off an explosion? What can we do to shrug off that creeping sense of losing control?
Jesus had some great advice for us. In Matthew 7:24-27, He told a story illustrating the life of a wise person versus a foolish person. The wise person built their house on a rock and the foolish person built theirs on a sandy spot. The house on the rock withstood storms, while the house on the sand was destroyed. Over and over in Scripture, Jesus is referred to as a Rock, so in this passage, His meaning is to build our lives upon Him. That way, when the storms of life blow against us we will be able to stand rock solid instead of falling to pieces. How can we do this in our fast-paced modern world?
Here are 9 ways we can stand in the storms of life:
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Build Your Life on a Solid Foundation
Make sure you know what you believe and why you believe it. If your faith is secure, it will give you perspective in the tough times. If you already have a close relationship with Jesus, then when unforeseen difficulties pop up, it will be a natural response to turn to Him for help. The following ideas can help:
1. Develop a daily habit of prayer and Bible study. Just like you’d never dream of leaving home in the morning without brushing your teeth, make sure you’ve also spent at least a few minutes in conversation with God. It is a habit that must be cultivated, but one that will make the most difference in your life. As in any conversation, this time should include both listening (reading God’s Word) and speaking (prayer).
2. Attend a Bible teaching church every week. Notice the two parts to this point. Know what the doctrine statement of your church says. You can probably find it on their website or make an appointment to speak with the pastor about it. If you’ve been reading your Bible, you’ll be able to decide if what you hear from the pulpit aligns. If something seems off, do some research, utilizing outside scholarly sources you trust, such as commentaries, to guide your understanding. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind and guide you. Seek counsel from someone you know who you consider to be a student of the Word.
Once you’ve settled the issue in your mind, be sure you are still comfortable with your church’s position. It is vital to agree one hundred percent on the major points of salvation and church ordinances.
Besides knowing the Bible, it is important to attend your church weekly. There all sorts of good reasons for this, but the strongest is that we will not last very long trying to go it alone. We need the fellowship and accountability of a local church. We need to spend our time with other Christians and develop deep friendships with them. These are people you can call when your life falls apart.
3. Find a prayer partner. This becomes a natural progression from attending a church every week and developing friendships there. You will be drawn to those who have common interests with you, and from this group a regular prayer and accountability partner can be chosen. This person should not be of the opposite sex to prevent any possible inappropriate issues from arising—especially if you’re married. Once the two of you have agreed to this commitment, meet regularly. Share concerns from your heart and be open about asking and answering pointed questions. But be sure most of your time together is spent in prayer.
4. Discover creative ways to display Scripture all around you. The Bible instructs us to do this in Deuteronomy 6 for very good reasons. When we can see a verse, we’re much more likely to incorporate it into our lives. We memorize it without even realizing what we’re doing. It sometimes becomes stuck in our brains on constant replay. And it works its way down into our hearts.
- Wall hangings with Scripture verses are everywhere in Christian bookstores and online. Choose one you like for each room in your house. It doesn’t need to be sofa-sized, merely appropriate for the wall space where you hang it.
- Jewelry is a great way to keep favorite Bible truths visible, and I talk about this in my book, Fashioned by God.Look for necklace charms and bracelets with a meaningful verse engraved. Consider asking God to show you a life verse that can become your signature. Shop for jewelry pieces that already display it, or maybe even design your own. Etsy shops can be really good resources. I found a shop selling customizable bar charms for a reasonable price, paired it with a different charm from another shop, and picked up a leather cord necklace from a local retailer to create my own signature piece.
- Place sticky notes with verses printed on them in strategic spots such as the bathroom mirror, your car dashboard, and your computer monitor. Pin them on a bulletin board and use a magnet to secure them to your refrigerator. Better yet for the fridge, collect Scripture magnets.
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In the Storm, Batten Down the Hatches
When we’ve built our life on the solid rock of faith in Jesus Christ, we know we’re safe in the storm from total destruction. But what about storm damage? Houses can sustain leaky roofs and broken windows, even if they’re not blown away. Building codes in storm-prone areas often require stronger materials and shutters that can be closed during high winds. Just before a predicted hurricane, TV news is filled with images of preparations to secure homes and businesses in more dramatic ways, such as sandbagging and boarding up windows.
There are also strategies you can employ to prevent life-storm damage such as a hysterical meltdown or full-blown case of hot messiness. I needed to use them when my life felt like it was falling apart the other day. These simple items helped me calm down and gain better perspective. They filled me with peace that pushed away my anxiety. They will do the same for you.
5. Remember what you know. Remind yourself of the verses you’ve memorized. Maybe you’re even wearing one right now that you can read. Recall to mind biblical truths such as, “God is good all the time,” and pair it with Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11. Look for encouraging memes on the Facebook pages of sites such as Proverbs 31 Ministries or from friends who routinely post them. Carry a purse-sized devotional book for go-to help, or keep a Bible app with a daily devo on your phone.
6. Pray. Take your concerns to the Lord. Tell Him all about them and offer them to Him. In a crisis, we don’t have time to stop for a long prayer session, but we can pray what I’ve heard described as S.O.S. prayers. These are short (maybe only two or three words) pleas for God to help. I have been in situations where the only words I could manage were, “Oh God.” They were addressed to the Lord. I knew the Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know what to say, and I trusted Him to do it then. In retrospect, I can see that He did.
7. Find something to be thankful for. One of the best things we can do to get our minds on the right track is practice gratefulness. After remembering truth and praying, it’s much easier to move toward thanksgiving. Even if it’s only being able to find your keys as you rush out the door, take time to thank Jesus for His help and provision.
8. Think right thoughts. Do you see the progression here? Philippians 4:8 provides a list of the types of thoughts we should keep in our minds. This is a discipline we need to practice all the time, but it is imperative when storms bombard us. These thoughts are lifelines that calm and help us see hope. Did you know your mind is engineered in such a way that you cannot think two thoughts at the same time? Yes, you can switch back and forth between thoughts rapidly, but you can’t think a bad thought while you’re thinking a good thought. Zig Ziglar got it right when he said, “Most people’s problems come from stinkin’ thinkin’.”
9. Call for back-up. Call your prayer partner and others you know who will pray for you during difficult times. I have four friends who always get a text from me when life goes haywire because I know they will stop and pray as soon as they see it. My tense muscles relax when I read a prayer one of them has typed back.
The next time life’s storm clouds gather, or a sudden rogue wave knocks you off your feet, these strategies will help you stay rock solid. You’ll be prepared and able to re-group. Building a life on the Rock is the best insurance against serious damage and a guarantee that you won’t be smashed to bits. It doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen, but it does mean you’ll be helped through them and emerge safe in the end.
Kathryn Graves, author of the book Fashioned by God, is a style expert, fashion coach, and Premier Designs jewelry consultant. She is also a pastor’s wife and Bible teacher. Kathryn helps women discover the source of real beauty in Jesus, freeing them to gain confidence in their personal styles. She is Mimi to three grandsons, and loves to play with color, both in fashion and interior design, and painting with pastels.
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