Enduring the Storm
Updated: Mar 22, 2019
“God never promised us life would be easy. He just promised He would be with us every step of the way.”
As true as this promise is, does it sound as cliche to you as it does to me?
It has been overused, words that so easily slip off our tongues when people are in the midst of a personal storm.
The words are a promise meant to provide hope, but when the promise doesn’t feel real, or true, or personal, it can add insult to injury.
Little by little, God has been revealing to me how my faith has lived more in a fairy tale world than in reality.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I know God’s word to be true. I believe it is without error, and perfectly inspired by Him. But, He has been showing me how even though I know His word to be true, I have not allowed it to be “real” to me. So many of God’s truths and promises have remained in my brain and have not made the journey to my heart and soul.
It has left me calloused and numb.
Most recently, God exposed my fairy tale faith through the Bible truth of Noah and the ark. A faith with a rosy cheeked, smiling Noah looking out the ark with all the chubby, happy animals. Sunshine. Rainbows.
There was a rainbow, and that rainbow did come with a promise.
I promise every living creature that the earth and those living on it will never again be destroyed by a flood (Genesis 9:11).
But, God made another promise before this. A promise to save Noah and his family from the destruction of all life under the heavens and every creature that has the breath of life in it (Genesis 6:17-18).
I have often thought how blessed Noah and his family were because their lives were spared in the devastating flood. I have overlooked an important part, however.
They still had to endure the storm and the flood. God did not spare them from this. I needed to see how things were not easy for Noah, but God was with him every step of the way.
If the person of Noah remains true, but not real, then we miss the details of his personal storm. We also miss a real God and the fullness of His promises.
Can we let each reality of Noah’s personal storm sink in? I need to do this. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Non-stop. Not only did it rain, but the fountains of the deep burst forth so the waters flooded the earth for an additional 110 days. 150 days of rain and flooding. The water covered the highest mountains and went more than 20 feet beyond. As I write this, I am looking out the windows of my house at the majestic Mt. Princeton. Its summit rises to 14,197 feet. It's not the highest mountain, but it gives some relevance to the height these floodwaters reached. I cannot even image what that would have felt like, but the thought alone terrifies me!
Those are the details of what was happening on the outside, clear details through the Scriptures.
But what about inside the ark?
We know Noah was inside with his wife, sons, and their wives. They were surrounded by pairs of every kind of unclean animal, seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, and seven pairs of all the birds of the sky. This is what God’s word tells us in Genesis 7:2-3. And this is usually where my thought process ends ... with the facts.
In order to understand Noah on a heart level, as a real person with real experiences, we must do our best to step into his shoes (or sandals, I suppose) and try to relate it to what we know to be true in our own experiences.
Each of these animals were making the sounds they were created to make and omitting every smell and bodily function they were created to omit. Birds were flying overhead, circling, and squawking. I used to think that driving a school bus was on my top 10 list of jobs I would never want to have, but driving an ark full of animals would top that any day!
There was no break from the animals and their noises. No getting off the ark for some fresh air, peace, and quiet. Here is where I have a tendency to think of Noah as a “perfect” man who never grew impatient, tired, or irritable. Likewise, I think of the animals as not being real animals. Quiet. Calm. Manageable. This is my numb, fairy tale world.
Noah was a good man. God describes him as the most innocent man of his time (Genesis 6:9). And we know from this same verse that he walked with God. However, Noah was not a perfect man. You can read more about that in Genesis 9:21. He was a man like you and me. I have to believe he experienced the same emotions, fears, and doubts we do. He knew God had saved him from the initial destruction of the earth, but I wonder if he thought God had forgotten about him and left him stranded in the midst of it all. Noah was not closed up tight in the ark for a mere 40 days or even 150 days. If you chart the days and details laid out for us in the Bible, Noah remained on the ark for 377 days from the day the Lord closed the door behind them (Genesis 6:16b) to the day he stepped out onto dry land once again (Genesis 8:18a).
Have you been in a long, drawn out personal storm? Maybe you’re experiencing one now. The days turn into weeks, into months, into a year or more. God may feel distant or non-existent. You begin wondering if He has forgotten about you and His promise to never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Let’s take a look at what happened next in Noah’s life. Genesis 8:1 says, “God did not forget about Noah and the animals with him in the boat. So God made a wind to blow, and the water started going down.”
God did not forget about Noah, and He hasn’t forgotten about you.
For God’s promises to go beyond being true in our brains, “true for others, but not for me,” or cliche, we must believe He is a God who speaks to us personally.
One practical thing I've done that might also help you is to write God’s promises on sticky notes or index cards and place them in areas where I will be reminded of them all day long. However, I don’t just write the Scripture word-for-word.
I add my name.
I read it out loud as if God were speaking it over me ... because He is.
Here are a couple examples of promises I have made personal:
Genesis 8:1a: Amy, I have not forgotten about you.
Exodus 14:14: I will fight for you, Amy; you need only to be still.
Isaiah 43:2: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, Amy; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.
I don’t know which of God’s promises you need to cling to today. Maybe these resonate with you, but maybe you need to find your own. His word is full of promises. And they are written for you. As much as we may turn God’s words into catchy Christian phrases, they are true.
In the places where we've become calloused and numb, they may sound cliche. However, God never tires of saying them. They are never overused. We must only be still enough to hear them and receive them as a personal message of love from Him. Only then can His promises bring true meaning and hope.
Even in the storm.