The storm is a gift. This phrase ran through my mind as wave after wave crashed upon me. In part because I knew it was true and partly because I hoped it was true. When the skies turned dark, they caught me off guard. I found myself lost in confusion as every bit of my weakness was exposed, but that was only a portion of the battle.
As the tempest raged against me on the outside, something else happened within me. My flesh began to rebel. It wanted me to know it was upset. As I entered one of the darkest times of my life, my sinfulness began to rear its head in ways I could have never imagined. It was showing me its power.
I never really saw myself as someone who longed for or loved the things of the world, but the minute the storm took them from me, a passion for them distressed my soul. They were no longer at my disposal, causing anguish in my spirit that made me feel ill. I thought, “what if all those days of pleasure are gone? I cannot live without them; they are part of my identity.” The notion that they were no longer mine was more than I could handle.
I realized a conflict between flesh and Spirit was clashing within me in a battle fiercer than I could ever remember. When you already feel you are spinning out of control because of life’s hardships, this type of inner conflict only compounds the trial by revealing your sinfulness. Once my sinfulness was added to the mix, I was devastated. Everything I thought I was standing on systematically dislodged from beneath me. I do not think I could have plummeted any lower.
This low point, however, was where I needed to be. When the conflict between flesh and Spirit heightens within us, it is more often a sign of spiritual progress than decline. When the Lord sends us troubles designed to mold us to His image, the first thing we tend to notice is how far we fall short. In other words, sanctified affliction seldom seems sanctified because the Lord is drawing the dross to the surface, but never forget, He is drawing it to the surface to wipe it away.
A.W. Tozer once said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” This quote may not sit well with many in the church today, but we must remember that God is more concerned with our spiritual growth than our worldly prosperity, and He will often sacrifice the latter to promote the former.
Even the disciples, who had seen Christ perform many miracles, did not marvel until their boat was at stake. We tend to see Christ’s power to calm the storm as merely amusing until our life is on the line; then, it becomes imperative. Our Savior is not looking for people who are impressed with His power from a distance; His children are the ones who know their very lives depend upon Him. Though every one of my worldly supports crumbled beneath me, when they were gone, I found myself standing on the Rock of Christ Jesus. In an act of God’s grace, the storm killed my idols.
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts. – Proverbs 17:3