Last week my home town of Honolulu was on high alert. We prepared our homes, gathered our supplies, and braced ourselves for not one, but TWO hurricanes that threatened to sweep right across our tiny island state. Hurricane Iselle was first, and she was headed directly for the Big Island of Hawaii, making landfall in the middle of the night. Fortunately for us, the mountainous terrain of the island actually played a role in dissipating the storm, and Iselle stalled somewhat, was downgraded to a tropical storm, and the potential damage to the remaining islands was lessened significantly. Julio was not far behind, but as it got closer, it drifted to the north and skimmed right passed us. Storm averted.
Hurricanes and Hope
The hurricanes caused us to sustain surges of high winds and surf, torrential rains and power outages, a tainted water supply and even a postponed Primary Election for some, but miraculously, no lives were lost and we will once again be able to enjoy the beautiful days we’ve got left this summer – until next year’s hurricane season arrives and we do it all over again.
Isn’t life like these stormy seasons sometimes?
Think about it – a broken relationship, a financial hardship, a health problem. Sometimes we are lucky and we received advanced warning of stormy conditions like we did before the hurricanes last week. Other times, life tosses us what feels more like a tornado, with a surprise attack smacking us upside the head – a sudden job loss, the unexpected death of a loved one. Then there are those seasons when one storm after another just keeps banging us around with no end in sight.
Or so it seems.
During our stormy seasons, we all have a different way of coping. Some of us stress eat, some of us go shopping, drink too much, snap at our spouses, or even take it out on our kids. Some of us internalize it and swallow a pain so great it’s a struggle to even get through the day. I have been there. I’ve been cheated on, diagnosed with cancer, lost my home, struggled with food issues, been in massive debt, and everything in between, and I’m still alive! And if you are reading this I want you to know there is HOPE for you. I want you to know that you can overcome, too! I am far from an expert, but one thing I know for sure is that storms do pass.
Think on that for a moment. The storms pass.
No matter how intense they may be, they pass. No matter how frequently they seem to come along, they pass. Sometimes another one hits before we can even raise our head above water, but it too, will pass. Life is awesome that way! It’s a series of storm, calm, storm, calm… all the while strengthening us, teaching us, and helping us to prepare for the next one, and often giving us wonderful nuggets of joy in between!
The Storm before the Calm
The bible is full of parables about storms in life. A quick story from the book of Luke, Chapter 8, shared at church with us this weekend by our pastor, Brandon Ahu:
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
Hey wait a minute, Jesus, why are you asleep? Don’t you know the boat is being swamped and they are in great danger?
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
Jesus had their backs all along! He saw the end of the storm before they did! How cool is that?
If you are going through a personal hurricane right now in your life, do you have someone to ride it out in the boat with you until the calm seas return? And in the meantime, what are you supposed to do to get through it? Firstly, try an exercise in perspective. Look at life from the perspective of all that you have to be grateful for. Put it down on paper if it helps, and list even the most basic things. There is always a lot we can be thankful for, and noticing the good often has a way of diminishing the bad. You can also get out and be with people. Sometimes a hardship is God’s way of connecting us to Him and to each other. Don’t spend your stormy season alone. Listen to others’ stories of overcoming obstacles. Read books, talk with people, just get out there and mingle with some positive peeps! Positivity can renew our hope and our spirit – and best of all, it’s contagious!
Sometimes bad things happen and we don’t get what we want. Remember that God’s plan is always for us to thrive, and that He sees the end of your storm long before you do. I believe God answers prayer; however, it might not always be with a “Yes”. Sometimes it’s a “No” or “Sorry, you’ll have to wait til later”. Still, I know that God’s got my back and I am never alone. Holding on to that faith can be a source of comfort and strength. No matter what you are feeling right at this moment, remind yourself there is peace and there is hope on the other side of the mountain and that after every storm, the calm returns.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This week, the world was shocked to learn the sad news of the passing of Robin Williams in an apparent suicide. His genius humor and talent made it that much harder to understand how he, of all people, could be suffering with a depression so dark that he knew of no other way out. Robin’s storms were beyond the everyday hills and valleys that most of us experience. If you are in serious despair, you of course need more than my simple little suggestions to “gain a new perspective” or go find someone who’s been there done that. You need to know that there are people who can help, but you must not isolate yourself. Reach out to someone – a neighbor, friend, co-worker, doctor, someone who will listen. Please know that God’s plan is not for us to suffer endlessly without hope. Hang in there, because your storm is simply the storm before the calm.
“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~George Iles
You are loved!