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Standing Firm in the Storms of Life (Part 1) by Mary Southerland
2 Corinthians 6:6 (NLT) "We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit."
Friend to Friend Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God. Life can be messy and bad things will happen but every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them - opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms. How can we face the storms of life in a way that honors God?
First truth: Live a pure life. 2 Corinthians 6:6 (NLT) "We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience."
The apostle Paul was certainly no stranger to storms. In his writings to the church at Corinth, Paul lists several actions we can take to survive and even thrive in those storms. Notice that purity is listed first. Paul is sending a clear and certain message. Integrity and power for daily life are the result of a heart committed to purity. A clean heart unleashes the authority of God in us and through us. Impurity corrodes stability while purity generates a supernatural strength. It is that power and stability that keeps us from falling.
Psalm 51:10 (NASB) "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
The Psalmist links a pure heart with a steadfast spirit. "Steadfast" literally means "fixed or unchanging" and defines the kind of strength that can only be found in a right relationship with God. Stability is essential when those blustery winds of life storms are raging. Some storms come to uncover that cherished sin we try so hard to bury. But make no mistake - the purpose of the storm is always to purify - then empower. If we refuse to deal with the sin in our life, God will urge us toward obedience by allowing the storms to come.
Second truth: Seek understanding.
2 Corinthians 6:6 NLT) "We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience."
Understanding is only as good as its place of origin. Human understanding is limited and tainted while Godly understanding is infinite and unspoiled. Our greatest lessons are learned in the fiercest storms. I know you have heard that statement many times - but are those words a living reality in your life?
A teacher was asked a question by one of his students who had come across Deuteronomy 6:6 that says, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." The student asked, "Why does it say to put God's commandments upon our hearts instead of in our hearts?" The wise teacher responded, "It is not within man's power to deposit truth directly into his heart. All we can do is place truth on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks, it will fall in."
Every circumstance that results in brokenness is designed to produce greater self-control and a fresh perspective. We can face every storm with confidence, knowing that God will redeem it for understanding and truth.
Third truth: Learn to be patient.
2 Corinthians 6:6 (NLT) "We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience."
I must confess that I am not the epitome of patience. In fact, I hate to wait - on anyone or anything - which may very well explain the presence of certain storms and trials in my life. James had the same problem but a much better attitude.
James 1:2-8 (NIV) "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I tend to consider it pure joy when I can escape trials of many kinds, but James tells us that trials can and should be faced with patience and an attitude of joy. Not joy for the trials but joy in the trials. Don't miss this vital truth. Joy is deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control. Joy is a chosen attitude and understands that trials are not punishment.
Take a $5.00 bar of steel. If you cut that bar into ordinary horseshoes, it is worth about $10.00. That same $5.00 bar of steel cut into needles is worth $350 but cut into delicate springs for watches, that same $5.00 bar of steel is worth $250,000.
Trials are a test, a measurement of growth. Patience gives God permission to work and even expects to be tested.We go to great lengths to avoid trials and shelter ourselves from the storms of life. The result is spiritual immaturity. God will not build our character without our cooperation and He will not work in us without our permission. We must surrender, invite Him to work and then by faith, patiently embrace that work in our life. Warren Wiersbe writes, "When God permits his children to go through the furnace, He keeps his eye on the clock and his hand on the thermostat." Doubt puts our circumstance between us and God while faith puts God between us and our circumstances. Patience comes when we give up the responsibility for the outcome to God.
Let's Pray Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness in my life. Sometimes my motives are not pure and are so often self-serving. Right now, please cleanse my heart of all sin. Give me eyes to see the treasure buried at the heart of every trial and help me to choose joy - even when I don't understand what You are doing in my life. Teach me, Lord. Let my life be an illustration of Your strength perfected in my weakness.
In Jesus' name,
Now it's Your Turn
Read Hebrews 12:12 (The Message) "So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs."
What does it mean in your life to "take a new grip" and "stand firm" even on shaky legs?
Do you really believe we can experience joy - even in the midst of the fiercest storm? Explain.
Looking back at the storms in your life, how would you rate your response to those storms? What changes do you need to make in order to experience victory?