In the passage taken from Philippians (above), verses 11-13 describe Paul’s gratitude for the many gifts he has been given. Now, Paul didn’t have the easiest, best, or most pleasant life, but he did learn how to persevere and be thankful for each and every moment he was blessed to experience.
It made me wonder – Do I praise the Lord even when times are tough?
It’s natural to praise God and to be grateful when things are all fine and dandy, but the real test of our faith, hope and trust in God comes when we intentionally choose to praise Him in the storm.
It brought me back to the time when I learned I had melanoma. Up until that moment, I had been a Christian for 7 years but I wasn’t an active follower. I was a believer, but not fully living out my faith. I was on the path, yet was easily distracted and detoured down many side streets that would lead me away from the paved road ahead.
But all of that changed in early fall of 2014. One little scratch from my toddler innocently cut open a mole on my chest. When the mole healed and closed up, it appeared black instead of its former shade of brown. I was bothered by the discoloration and scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist to make sure everything was okay. It took the dermatology practice close to two months to fit me in despite my concerns. Yet, after a short exam and quick biopsy, the pathology revealed a skin cancer level so serious that I was to undergo surgery ASAP before the cancerous cells could spread any further.
Hearing the severity of that news changed me forever. It was the thing I needed to push me over the edge so I could freely fall into my Father’s arms. Hillsong United’s song, “Oceans,” was released around that time and I clung to its lyrics like a life raft. I was scared, yes, but I was overcome with a peace I had never experienced before. It was like I was being tested on the shoreline. I could stay there in denial or in fearful loathing of my circumstance OR I could venture forward into the unknown waters ahead.
I chose to walk on the water and I never looked down.
Fortunately, the doctors were able to rid my body of the cancerous cells but nothing would be able to rob my body of the faith, hope and trust I had in the Lord. This whole experience taught me the vital importance of knowing God and living your life for Him and only Him. I am so grateful I learned how to praise Him in the storm because I have faced a handful of storms since then and have not been afraid nor have I wavered off track.
I’m sure I will weather more storms in the future and I pray my foundation will remain rooted in the Lord rather than drifting in the wind or carried away like a tornado. I pray I can be like Paul and seek wisdom and Truth in the midst of any trial or triumph I may face.
One glance on the news and you’ll be crush by devastating events from around the world and directly within our country. The type of wickedness that exists in the world is some of the worst evil humanity could have ever imagined, It eats up my soul because I believe this is how people lose faith, hope and trust in the Lord…and in fact, many have. In times like this people will ask why God would allow for terrible things to happen. I get it. It’s utter madness we are living through and it can make a person question the existence of a loving, caring and sovereign God.
Whether we want to or not, we can’t go down that road. We can’t lose hope, let go of our faith or throw our trust out of the window. No. We must persevere and be strong – strong for ourselves and strong for each other. Millions of people are drowning and we possess the life raft to save them. We must praise our Heavenly Father even when we don’t want to because deep down we know this is not what He intended for humanity and for the world. We are called out on the water to walk towards Jesus. Deep down, we know we only want to be with Him and in the comfort of our Father’s arms in Heaven.
But first, we must praise His name forever more. In the beauty and in the ashes. In the sunshine and in the rain. In the birth of new life and in the life cut too short. Throughout it all, we must pray the Spirit will give us His strength to praise God in the storm.
“I was sure by now God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain “I’m with You”
And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm”Lyrics from Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns