Storms of life are going to happen this side of Heaven. Will they define you or refine you?
This was the topic given to me to speak on at a women’s event ? The Peace After the Storm? Should be pretty easy right? But the more I thought about it the more I realized what a deeply profound topic this was. I asked myself questions like,
Is peace after a storm a guarantee?
Why do some people experience more bad weather than others?
I hoped my profound comments would go deeper than some of the more lame remarks I’ve recently made. Fortunately I’ve said most of them to my husband Dave. I’ll share them with you if you promise not to tell anyone.
In prepping for our trip to Haiti?
I bought all these coloring books and crayons to bring on our trip at the dollar store. And guess how much I paid for them? A dollar!
In prepping for the upcoming speaking event Dave mentioned I should read Psalm 103…
Psalm 103! Psalm 103! That comes right after Psalm 102!
Yup, I said it.
So maybe I won’t say anything terribly profound. I just pray I don’t say anything terribly stupid!
The reason I got so excited when my husband brought up Psalm 103 was because this was the exact Psalm I felt God leading me to share with these women. I picture King David barely being able to contain the joy oozing from his pores as he penned these words. I picture his eyes getting misty; his arms held open toward heaven, and an all-knowing grin stretched wide across his face. And while I’m at it, I can hear that old hymn playing in the background of Psalm 103:1 (NKJV). Can you?
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
I think King David must have been reflecting on all of his good fortune when he wrote Psalm 103. He must have been pondering his perfect life, his perfect kids, his shiny gold goblets, his impeccable military career, and his spotless lambs.
In an effort to check the accuracy of my assumptions, let’s glean some additional insight from Psalm 102:1-4 (NKJV).
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
For my days are consumed like smoke,
And my bones are burned like a hearth.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass,
So that I forget to eat my bread.
Obviously I thought wrong.
If Psalm 102 were a newly released wine the description would read, A hint of agony with overtones of depression. Double gold winner. 102 points if that’s possible.
Bless the Lord, O my soul comes right on the heels of that?! Could it be that blessings like the ones described in Psalm 103 are born out of the pit of despair? I guess it depends on what you call blessings. Consider David’s list of blessings in Psalm 103:3-5 (NKJV). They include?
Forgiveness – Who forgives all your iniquities,
Healing – Who heals all your diseases,
Redemption – Who redeems your life from destruction,
Free From Shame – Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,
Soul Satisfaction – Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
Renewal – So that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
Where there is forgiveness, there has been sin. Where there is healing, there has been sickness. Where there is redemption, there has been brokenness. Where there is freedom from shame, there has been scorn. Where there is satisfaction, there has been hunger. Where there is renewal, there has been weariness.
Where there is a Christ follower, there was and is a has been.
The Pit Between Storms and Peace
I want to know what happened between Psalm 102 and Psalm 103. How did David move from despair to jubilation? I think he did it in that in-between place, better known as ‘The Pit.’ It’s the place God does His very best work in us. It’s the place we grow deep roots in our faith. It’s the place God whispers to us His most profound life changing truths. It’s the very place that precedes the peace and the blessing we long for.
So when you’re in the pit, don’t forget these reminders. They’ll help you get to the peace after the storm.
Remember after the why’s to accept what you cannot change.
Thankfully we have a great big God that can handle our great big ‘Why’ questions. When we get through our long list of questions we need to settle into the reality that we have landed in a great big pit. Surely this was not on our agenda. It’s not fair. It’s not the dream I dreamed for my life. It isn’t what we asked for but it is what we got. And so we eventually need to accept it. Remembering that acceptance does not mean we approve of it. It just is what it is. We cease struggling. We conserve energy by becoming still.
We resist the urge to wish it away.
Remember the solution is never found in the problem.
The longer we stare at the problem, the longer we stay stuck. There are no answers in the problem, only pain. It wasn’t until David got to verse 12 in Psalm 102 that he started to get better. Two simple words, “But God”? David began to recall the greatness of God as he personally understood Him. He gets historical, not hysterical. David begins to look up. The solution always resides with God. When we start seeing things from His perspective, the fog lifts just enough to see His nail pierced hand reaching out to ours.
Grab ahold and don’t let go.
Remember who you are.
Life is not fair… After all I’ve done? Woe is me…
Welcome to my pity party.
The enemy would like to give you a new name, Victim, Useless, Bitter. But you can peel that label right off your blouse because God has given you a new name written in permanent ink, Daughter, Victor, Beloved. You and I are victors, not victims. I am a child of the most High God. And so are you.
The pit will refine us not define us!
Remember to get out.
You won’t get out by putting your big girl panties on. You can’t will yourself out. You can’t wish yourself out. You can’t scratch and claw your way out. You must be carried out. No one understood this better than the men and women described in Hebrews 6:1. The writer of Hebrews encourages them by saying, “Let us go on”. Behind that phrase is a well of rich pit wisdom. The Greek word used is Pheromai. It means to be carried. Want to go on? Want to get out of the pit? Let Jesus crawl in that still small space with you and carry you out.
I can’t. He can. So I’ll let Him.
Remember to go forth and serve.
On the other side of that pit is a heart like Christ’s. A heart that beats for the hurting, the lost, and the broken. A heart that can relate. A heart that cares. A heart that gets better when it is being stretched in service to another wounded soul. Get comfortable without wearing perfection. Be vulnerable. Tell your story when God prompts you. Get focused on using your pit experience to help someone else get on the other side of peace.
The more peace you give away, the more peace you get.
The Hope That Lies Within Me
Are you in a pit today? Here’s some really good news! After we’ve shared in the fellowship of sufferings, we emerge from the pit a little bit more like Jesus. We look different. We sound different. We love different. We inspire the question posed in 1 Peter 3:15,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
We’re all pretty much the same here on planet earth. Different circumstances but we’re all familiar with the pit. We’ve all been broken, sad, hurt, and needy.
The only difference between the world and me is Jesus. Jesus is the hope that lies within me. They won’t ask us to share our hope if all they see is perfection. They’ll ask when they see it in us – forgiveness, healing, redemption, freedom from shame, satisfaction, and renewal.
We are ordinary people with an extraordinary God.
We’ve been pulled out of the pit and live to tell the miraculous tale.
Peace After the Pit
For every Psalm 102, God gives us a Psalm 103!
He will use every teardrop and every ounce of pit pain for His glory if we let Him.
Sing it with me sister…
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
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