As we are in the midst of this rainy season in Kenya, one of my favorite things is falling asleep to the rain crashing down on my tin roof. Growing up in California, I didn’t experience many thunderstorms - it was something so foreign to me. To paint you a little picture, the downpour I encounter in San Diego is about equivalent to Kenya’s sprinkle. The storms here are earth-shaking, powerful, yet so beautiful. Through the rains, power-outages, roaring thunder, and chilly nights, I am learning so much. I am learning to both love and endure these storms. I am learning just how powerful and mighty our God is. With simply a whisper, He can call the rains, calm life’s storms, and bring clear skies. Because of this, I am learning that an incomprehensible peace follows the storm and His mercies truly are made new every morning. (Lamentations 3:23).
Our world is a broken place, filled with broken people. Our lives are full of storms and struggles; and our individual storms in life all look very different. Some of our storms involve: feeling purposeless, unworthy, not enough; facing unemployment, divorce, idolatry; overcoming illnesses, addictions, relationship difficulties. These storms can appear without any warning or caution. Similar to the physical storms I’m experiencing in Kenya, life’s storms can also be muddy, messy, and uncertain. They bring fear and doubt. But when the rains cease and the clouds are rolled back, there is immense clarity, healing, and grace. The repercussion of rain leads to cleansing, growth, restoration. The land becomes green, fruitful, and lush. The old is thrown off and a new beginning is created in mercy. My prayer is that we would receive this mercy that He has poured out so perfectly and that we would remember that He is a great provider of refuge when life’s storms prevail. After all, He provided the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I could have our greatest needs met.
In this Easter season, I am reminded of the three days on this broken earth that the world was questioning if everything was going to be okay, and what was going to happen next. Often in the storms of life we also question if everything is going to be okay. We question our worth, our future, our success, our purpose. But miraculously, after those three days of uncertainty and doubt, there is restoration, renewal, and answers. We learn and experience the depth of His power and might because of the way He has overcome the grave. I am reminded that Our Savior is not unacquainted with our storms and sufferings, but that He graciously chooses to get right in the middle of it on the Cross. He mercifully takes off the weight of our broken world from our shoulders and effortlessly carries us through the storm.
In the storms and sufferings, Jesus doesn’t call us to be perfect, He calls us to be present. In Shauna Niequist's book, Present Over Perfect, she illustrates living present as living “with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem” and understanding “that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness” (Niequist, pg 130). Living present is embracing our flaw-filled lives while looking to Jesus to define our worth. Living present is taking on our storms and sufferings as they come because we know that when the rains cease, we will reflect back and see that He has carried us through all the way.
I see a strong sense of longing in these beloved souls that I am doing life with every day: a longing to be loved, to be known, a longing for purpose, to be complete, a longing for answers, and storms to halt. But with unfailing love and perfect peace, we are told in Isaiah to not be afraid or ashamed because He’s holding us ever so tightly through every storm we encounter. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
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