I have this dog.
He is a mixed breed of some kind. He’s pretty aggressive and has a big bark. He’s the kind of dog that makes me feel safe when I am home alone. He’s the kind of dog that we don’t allow kids to pet when we’re out walking, just to be safe. He’s good with the kids that are part of our family, those he is around regularly.
For the past 11 years, he has managed to keep us safe from intruders, like the UPS man, the mail carrier, and the neighbor bringing Christmas cookies. What a relief right? I have joked for years that his main job is to keep all the elephants out of the yard, and I can assure you that he is 100% successful! I have yet to have a single elephant take up residence in my yard!
But what I find so interesting is that this aggressive, protective, burly dog is terrified of lightening and thunder. This time of year (summer) is a challenging time for Chomper (yes, Chomper like The Land Before Time movies….). In Arizona, we get summer thunderstorms. Sometimes they produce rain (I’m still waiting this year). But, more often than not, they just threaten to storm with big winds, lightening, and thunderclaps. These are the kind of things that send my burly dog running to the other end of the house. He shakes, he whines, and he cowers. During those times when the storm goes into the night, my poor hubby ends up sleeping on the couch to comfort this big baby. Chomper will pace, pant and whimper until the storm passes.
I find all of this hilarious! How can such a brave, often fierce dog be such a chicken about something outside? Now, this is not his first year with thunderstorms. He has lived with them his entire life; they come and go every year. He has never once been struck by lightning, never been left to fend for himself unprotected while the rain beat down on him, and no windstorm has ever picked him up and carried him away from our home. And yet, he acts as though at any second, any or all those things could happen to him.
I wonder if God ever feels that way about me…
Psalm 46:1 (ESV) says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I wonder If you’re like me. Sometimes I forget, I get spiritual amnesia. When trouble strikes in my life, I am immediately thrown into a tailspin of sorts. “How could this happen? Why is this happening? How am I going to fix it?”
My default is to “freak out”, (even just a little bit). I want to duck and cover. I want to make “it” stop. I try to tackle the issue and figure out a way to end the trial immediately. This is normal right?
Sometimes we forget about Psalm 46:1. This scripture reminds us that we do not need to tackle our issues under our own strength. God is our refuge and strength. He is our very present help in trouble.
When Chomper hears a thunderclap, he assumes that the worst is ahead, he can’t recognize that our home is his refuge. He doesn’t know that he will not be subject to the volatile effects of the storm on his own. He runs to cower and hide because he feels scared and alone. He doesn’t fully understand that, as his owners, we are there for him. We are close by; we are very present in his fears. He’s a dog, he can’t be reasoned with.
But you and I are different. We have the ability to think differently. We have the ability to take our fears and struggles and place them directly into the mighty hands of God.
Our best response in the face of difficulty is to pause and pray. Not falter and fidget.
In my heart, I know that when hardships come, there is always purpose. I know that God is at work and that He is doing something in my life that will change me for His glory. I know that I will come out better for it. And I truly believe that my pain can be used by Him to ease the pain for someone else down the road (when I seek Him and come out on the right side of it). But oftentimes, these are the thoughts that come second. After the “freak out” session has ended. After I have settled down and come to the end of myself, and my limited resources to handle things.
Romans 8: 38-39 (NLT) carries another pertinent truth straight to my heart. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Those are some powerful words, friend. (Read them again, slower this time.) Nothing can separate us from God’s love! Not death, not fears, not worries, not trials of life. Sometimes we feel that way, but it is not true.
Each time that a crisis arises in our lives, we have a choice. We can pause and pray, and elicit God’s direction within the crisis. Or we can freak and fidget, and take things into our own hands. We always have that choice. God is faithful and compassionate though. He wants to help us maneuver through our current difficulty. Through relationship with Him, we can have peace in the middle of a struggle, even if the struggle doesn’t go away quickly.
Knowing that God the Father wants to be there in the storm with me, gives me much peace and comfort. I’ve learned that sometimes He stops the storm around me, and sometimes He stops the storm within me.
There is no way to avoid storms in this life. Storms are completely a part of being human. We can’t change that. But what we can change is our response to the storm. By trusting God in the storm and remembering the He is a very present help (or ever-present help, in the NIV), we cando our part to stop the storm within.
The next time there is a thunderstorm, and the lightening has Chomper running for cover, my hubby will be there. He will sleep on the couch. He will pet him while he whines. He will talk to him and try to alleviate his fears. He will stay with Chomper until the storm passes, and he can rest.
The Lord will do the same for you and me. He will stay with us through the night. He will comfort us with His loving embrace of peace. He will draw us to His word where we can find truth to calm our fears. And He will not leave us to weather the storm alone. He’s a good, good Father. Remember that the next time the winds of difficulty start to blow in your direction. God is our refuge and strength. Will you freak and fidget, or will you pause and pray?
Lord, it is so easy for me to worry. Sometimes life gets difficult, and I don’t always respond the way that I want to. But Lord, I trust You. I know that You are always with me. I believe that You want me to lean into You and that You will fight the storms of life with me if I’ll just acknowledge my need for You. I pray now and ask that You will remind me of this truth. That the next time the wind howls and I feel scared, that Your spirit will remind my spirit, that I am not alone. That You are my refuge and my strength.