My sufferings have brought me near the painful sting of death. Yet, those deaths have also led to greater life. It’s the dichotomy of the Christian life. Sorrows that lead to joy. Loss that leads to gain. Death that leads to life.
Even still, in the midst of the darkest days, I’ve had to fight against the thick cloud of despair that threatens to choke out any semblance of hope. A fight that takes more than what I have within myself. But of all the ways Christ has grown in me to fight for this hope, one spiritual weapon has been both counter-intuitive and crucial.
Over the years, one of the greatest weapons against despair has been developing a heart of praise and worship in the midst of the storm. King David acknowledged this when he declared,
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.Psalm 42:11
When our eyes are fixed on the waves, we keenly sense our powerlessness. But when our eyes are fixed on the One who rules the waves, we’re infused with the courage to endure them, trusting that God not only holds the power over them, but the power to sustain us in them.
But how do we keep eyes on the Lord, when the waves are pounding us?
We offer our worship and praise for what he’s already done and what he has promised he will do.
This is where faith is developed. It’s where our distorted views of God’s promises are exposed and challenged. It’s where we’re forced to examine whether our hope is truly rooted in the gospel, and sovereignty and goodness of God, or our own wisdom, strength, and desires. It’s where the good things in our life are pruned, allowing room for the better, eternal things to flourish. It’s where our weak faith muscles are exercised, strained, and grown into faith muscles than can withstand even greater storms. It’s where the emptiness of the world is exposed and the fullness and preciousness of Christ is grasped.
But we don’t do any of this in our own strength. We learn to do this as we pour out our griefs, fears, sorrows, and sins to Christ when threaten to consume us. And we learn to do this as we open his Word, come to him in prayer, and experience the comfort, wisdom, promises, and strength of his presence.
This, friends, is what turns the storms that threaten to destroy us into a tool in the hand of our Father to seek him as our refuge, experience the otherworldly comforts of his presence, develop eyes of eternity, see the power of God at work on our behalf, deepen the roots of faith, produce in us a heart of praise, and display the hope of Christ to the world around us.
Today, may we acknowledge the storms that threaten to consume us, but ask for God’s strength to work in us a heart of praise for his past, present, and future faithfulness – for the deepening of our faith and to the praise of his name.
“Commit whatever grieves thee
Into the gracious hands
Of Him who never leaves thee
Who heaven and earth commands;
Who points the clouds their courses,
Whom winds and waves obey,
He will direct thy footsteps
And find for thee a way.”Paul Gerhardt – German Hymnist
In the Hope of Christ,
You can now order Sarah’s new book – Tears and Tossings: Hope in the Waves of Life, releasing May 2nd.
To read more on the hope we have in suffering, you can purchase “Hope When It Hurts – 30 Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering” authored by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell here or here. Jeff and Sarah Walton’s marriage book, Together Through the Storms – Biblical Encouragements for Your Marriage When Life Hurts.