“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami
We must weather many storms in our lives. Some of them are intense beyond words. Some present overwhelming challenges. We are more troubled than we have ever been. Some of us are doubting we have what it takes to endure. We had come to expect relatively smooth passage on our journey.
Storms expose our vulnerability. They uncover false certainties around what we have constructed with our daily schedules, our projects, and our priorities. Storms reveal how we have become numb in dealing with adversity. But storms don’t last forever and not all storms end with total destruction, some actually clear the way for growth.
One of the main purposes for hurricanes around the globe is to create a temperature balance between the poles and the equator. This imbalance of temperatures exists because of the orientation of the polar axis of our planet. Earth’s equator receives more solar energy than any other latitude. The Earth is always trying to spread this warm wealth around the world, and a hurricane can do this. Storms are also a natural and necessary part of ecosystem function. The toppling of mature trees allows sunlight to reach the darker undergrowth, permitting shade-intolerant species to proliferate. This promotes biodiversity.
In the middle of a storm’s turmoil, we often spend time thinking about how we got there and possibly who to blame. We need to be thinking about getting through the storm. A storm will clarify the things that really matter and the things that don’t. In dire times of storms at sea, the deck hands will throw unnecessary cargo overboard; cargo they thought was needed but, in an emergency, realized they could do without.
Storms happen. We need to navigate our way through them. We must build the resilience needed to stay afloat and battle these storms. In my Row, Row, Row Your Boat lesson I explain the need to have a good solid boat; built out of good materials. properly maintained. A boat that weathers a storm better. Have we built our life with good materials and maintained fitness? Have we, as a nation, built our boat on good moral standards and maintained our focus?
There are countless storm tales of the faint light of a lighthouse being a reminder that there is a shoreline, a place of optimism. I really enjoyed the 2016 movie, The Finest Hours, based on the historic and dangerous 1952 United States Coast Guard rescue of the crew of SS Pendleton, after the ship split apart during a nor’easter off the New England coast. Not sure if this part was fact or embellishment, but the rescue boat is able to return to harbor in a power outage because the townsfolk drive their cars to the pier and turn on their headlights to guide them in.
Needtobreathe recently released a song, titled ‘Seasons.’ I was fortunate to see their first live performance of the song at Red Rocks in Colorado. ‘Seasons’ is written about a conversation between a man and his wife. They had been going through some crazy times and were crushed by it. One day they reached their limit and decided to figure how to go forward without crashing every time they received bad news. They determined how to go through tough times – with people you love and knowing you’ll be able to get through it.
We’re in for nasty weather
And I’ll ride it out with you
We won’t be riding highs and lows
Like tides of ocean blue
We won’t be here forever
Just a moment then we’re through
We can’t be shifting with the sands
Like seasons always do
In Mark’s gospel (4:35-41), we hear of Jesus calming the seas during the storm. This story evokes the anxiety of the disciples as they fear for their lives in the small boat that is being “swamped” by the waters around them. The climax of the story comes when Jesus calms the waters and allays their fears with the words, “Peace! Be still!”
We also know of Paul and his voyage to Rome where he encounters a storm at sea. However, not enough importance is given to the man who got him through the storm safely. Luke reports in Acts 27:1, “When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion named Julius of the Cohort Augusta.” Julius was the officer in charge of an elite group of soldiers. When the ship began to break up, the soldiers planned to kill the prisoners, including Paul. However, “the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan” (Acts 27:43). Because of this man’s actions, Paul spends two years in Rome writing Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon while he “proclaimed the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:31). By saving his life, Julius made possible the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
Yes, we are going to encounter storms along the way, some of them challenging our existence. Can our values and relationships be our lighthouse on the shore? Will our boats be built of integrity and principles? Can we enter the storms with the faith to trust that Jesus will be there to carry us through? Will we hear the calling, “Peace! Be still!”? Can we calm the storms within us as much as the storms around us?