I love a good rain storm. Big thunder. Impressive lightning. The kind of storm that when it rains, it pours! And the whole storm just seems to overwhelm everything.
It’s one of the things I miss about living in the South and Midwest. Here in New England we don’t get a lot of big thunderous rain storms very often. We get some pretty impressive snow storms, which I also love. But it’s more rare to get this kind of a big rain storm, where when it rains it just pours.
When it rains, it pours
Unfortunately, this phrase can also mean something different from an actual rain storm. In fact, most often when I hear this phrase used, or when I use it myself, it is to refer to difficulties in life. And not just a difficulty or two, but a period of time when it seems like difficulties seem to just pour down faster than we can work through them…and sometimes, even faster than we can even think about them and process it all.
Big thunder. Impressive lightning. And the kind of storm that when it rains, it pours! The kind of storm that is just a downpour of difficulties. The kind of storm that is completely overwhelming.
When it rains, it pours!
As I sit here writing this, I am not looking back on a time in the past, remembering when I was in the middle of a downpour of difficulties. I am writing this as I sit here in the middle of a downpour.
This is a storm that started a few years ago. Every so often it seems to start letting up…but then it begins to pick up again. Right now, the thunder is deafening. The lighting is so impressive it’s actually scary. And the rain is falling so hard that it’s hard to see more than a couple of feet in front of myself.
When it rains, it pours…and it becomes overwhelming
It has become such a big storm, that it’s hard to even know exactly where to turn and which way to go in order to find shelter to get out of the storm. It’s not just raining, it’s pouring. A legitimate downpour!
It’s the kind of rain that falls so fast and hard that it actually hurts. The kind of rain that the ground can’t soak up fast enough, so big puddles are forming all around. The kind of rain that just drenches everything. The kind of rain that is truly overwhelming.
When it rains, it pours…and I’m completely overwhelmed!
Yesterday it kind of all came to breaking point. The storm was so strong, and I was so weak, it just made for one of those days you want to forget. It was the recipe for a bad day…and a bad day it definitely was. Not only did nothing seem to go right, but everything also seemed to go wrong. (I had a Confirmation retreat at my house during the day as well, and I actually enjoyed that…it was everything going on in my life aside from that which made for a really bad day) By the end of the day, I just couldn’t hold it together anymore. I got home after dropping my kids off back at their mother’s house, went inside, and just lost it…
I shared with my best friend how frustrated I was, how I was struggling with everything, how utterly overwhelmed I was and how inadequate and worthless and weak I felt in that moment.
I paced back and forth around my living room, at first just trying to breathe, then yelling, then crying, then more yelling, then more crying, then trying to breathe again.
I sat in silence, staring up at the ceiling not moving, not wanting to think or feel or do anything.
I honestly, for a moment, wanted to just give up on everything…to just pack up and leave my life and go where no one would know me or be able to find me and just live my life alone, running away from the storm I currently find myself in.
It wasn’t just raining, nor was it even pouring…it was such a major downpour that it was consuming everything
Last night I was able to find some peace. I was able to talk more with my best friend. I was able to laugh some. I was able to relax and breathe. I was able to sleep. And then this morning when I woke up…
…the rain was still falling hard…
…another discouraging thing happened…
…I continue to be in the middle of the downpour…
…and I was also reminded of a couple of truths that can be easy to forget…
1. Storms will come and go, God will not
No matter what storm I’m in the middle of, no matter how distant I feel from God, no matter how distracted from seeking him I am at a particular moment during the storm, God has not gone anywhere. Storms will come and go in this life, but God will not come and go…because he is always here with me.
…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted… (Psalm 34:18)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (Lamentations 3:22-25)
There’s a reason the Bible says this (and there are many more verses/passages that remind us of this truth)…because storms are a part of life. We live in a broken and fallen world, and difficult things happen. As much as we try, we cannot keep storms from happening in our life. But, we can find comfort and peace and strength and renewed faith in the truth that no matter how big the storm, God is with us. He hasn’t abandoned us, left us, or walked farther away from us. He’s with us, near us, helping us.
And that leads to the second truth…
2. The storm will always seem bigger when I am focused on it
This morning I was reminded of something that happened last summer.
I was at my son’s baseball game, when a rain storm hit. And this was a pretty big rain storm too! Everyone immediately began to run for cover. Some of the coaches ran into the dugout. Most of the parents and kids ran into the nearby pavilion. And then we waited…waited to see how long the storm would last. As it continued on, it became apparent that the game wasn’t going to continue, as the ground became increasingly soaked with puddles forming all around. So at that point, we were just waiting for the rain to die down enough so we could run to our cars to head home.
As I was standing there with my kids waiting for the rain to die down, my son decided he wanted to run a race in the rain.
I love the perspective of kids! We as parents are frustrated because the rain ruined our plans, or not wanting to get wet from the rain, or thinking about how we have to reschedule the game for a future date. And all the while, the kids just want to live in the moment and enjoy the rain rather than be frustrated by it. (maybe this is why Jesus said we must have faith like a child)
As a parent and a sensible adult…sometimes anyway…my initial thought and response was “No, because I don’t want to get wet.” But I am so glad I didn’t stick with that response! When he asked me again a minute later, I changed my mind and said “Ok, let’s do it”. And we did!
Afterwards I was wet and cold from the rain, and I probably looked pretty goofy and childish to other parents. But I now have this memory with my son of having fun in the middle of a rain storm, because we chose to not focus on the storm, but rather living and having fun in the moment. And it’s a memory that my son has even brought up again since that time.
If we are so focused on the storm that it becomes all we see, then we will be overwhelmed by it because we are allowing it to overwhelm us
We can’t change the storm, but we can change our focus and how we act and react in the midst of that storm.
May we remember that no matter the size or strength of the storm, God is right there. May we find rest and peace and strength and renewed faith because we know God is with us. May we find promises and encouragement in God’s Word that we can cling to. May we choose to not be so focused on the storm that we miss what is happening around us that is good. May we find ways to be intentional about focusing on what God is doing around us and the things we can do, even in the middle of the storm.
A few suggestions to help focus on these 2 truths rather than the storm…
- Search scripture for verses/passages that give encouragement in the midst of difficult times, and then journal them so you can easily remember and be reminded of them when you need to be.
- Talk to someone who has been through a major storm themselves, allowing yourself to both be honest about your storm as well as listen to the wisdom they have to share with you from their own storm.
- Write down a list of things you have in your life at this moment that you are thankful for…blessings that God has given you, even in the middle of the storm.
- Pray. Be honest with God. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles and honest feelings with him. He can handle it. Yell if you have to. Open yourself up to him…and then watch as you begin to seek him and draw closer to him in ways you never thought you could before.
I’d love to hear other ideas you have or ways you’ve done this in your own life. Please feel free to comment and share.