A storm blew over my house last night. Rain pitter-pattered against the windows. Thunder shook the walls. Lighting lit up the sky. The storm induced fear in my son, who sleepily wandered into my room, whimpering. He crawled into bed, safely snuggled between my husband and me, and went right to sleep. The storm no longer rattled him while he was nestled between his parents.
We all experience storms in our lives. Storms can steadily approach, or hit unexpectedly. Storms shatter our reality, shake our confidence, induce fear, lead us to question. How do you respond to the storms in your life?
How do we praise God in a storm? When people die, marriages fail and diagnoses come, how do you praise God and not hate Him or get angry with Him? These questions were submitted when my pastor invited our congregation to write down questions they would ask Jesus, after he answered the question “What would Jesus say to me?” on Easter Sunday. Several questions were answered during a recent sermon, however, there were more questions than time. This week, we are answering additional questions via four blogs: Adventure Christian Church, Buddy Howard, Nick Burczyk and Heather Snider.
Psalm 77 provides insight on how to praise God in the storm.
Psalm 77 (NLT)
For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of Asaph.
1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! 2 When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. 3 I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude
4 You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! 5 I think of the good old days, long since ended, 6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. 7 Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? 8 Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude
10 And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” 11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. 12 They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
13 O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? 14 You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. 15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude
16 When the Red Sea[a] saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths. 17 The clouds poured down rain; the thunder rumbled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed. 18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook. 19 Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there! 20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.
Asaph, the author of Psalm 77, cries out to God. He questions God… he wrestles with God. Did you notice how he honestly presents his thoughts, feelings and emotions to God? Verses 1-10 document his reaction to the storm. But starting in verse 11, the tone changes. Verse 11 ignites a thought transformation as Asaph writes: But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works (Psalm 77:11-12). And Aspah lists God’s mighty works from the past: His awesome power among the nations (v. 14), redeeming His people with His strong arm (v. 15), and God parting the Red Sea (vs. 16-20).
Asaph praises God in the midst of his storm. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 encourages us to praise God in the storm too: be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Notice the verse says be thankful IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances. Big difference. Romans 1:21 helps us understand why it’s important to give thanks in all circumstances: Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. When we don’t worship God as God or give Him thanks, our minds become dark and confused and we start to come up with foolish ideas of what God is like. Oh, how we need to cling to God’s Word in the midst of our storms so we can remember Who He really is!
So, how can you be thankful IN all circumstances… how can you praise God in the storm… so your mind doesn’t become dark and confused? Follow Asaph’s example. Honestly share your feelings and emotions with God. And then, recall all He has done in the past. Reflect on God’s unfailing love and faithfulness in your previous circumstances. Praise Him for His faithfulness in the past, and trust Him to be faithful in the present and future. Ask God to show you how He is providing for you in your storm. Read Psalm 139 and meditate on how you are never out of God’s sight.
Another way to praise God in the midst of storms is to establish a daily habit of giving thanks. Write down three to five things you are thankful for each day, and watch how you start to recognize the little blessings that fill your day. And when the storm hits, you can recall all God has done by reading through your thankful list. Check out Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare or The Thankfulness Experiment for more information on the daily practice of giving thanks.
Storms will come… Jesus said so Himself in John 16:33: I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. When storms hit us, we get to choose… to trust God or doubt God. Oh, that we would choose trust because Romans 15:13 shows us the amazing benefits of trusting God… joy and peace: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Need a few songs to help you praise God in the storm? I AM by David Crowder reminds us that God is holding onto us in the middle of the storm. Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns encourages us to listen for God’s still, small voice in the midst of our storms. No matter what storm we’re facing, we can cling to Psalm 34:18 : The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Will you run into the presence of your Heavenly Father when a storm rises up? Will you find shelter under the shadow of God’s wings, much like my son found shelter between his mommy and daddy, while the storm is raging? Will you cry out like David did in Psalm 57:1: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by? God is waiting for you to come…