The storm is a gift. This was the thought that was running 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 from the outside something else started happening on the inside. My flesh rebelled. It had been active all along as I now realize, but it started to let me know that it was upset. As I entered one of the darkest times of my life, my sinfulness began to rear its head in ways I had never imagined. It was showing me its power.
I never really saw myself as someone who longed for and loved the things of the world, but the minute the pleasures were no longer available, a passion in my soul stirred for them. The fact that they were no longer at my disposal caused a despondency in my spirit that made me feel sick. I thought, “What if all those days of pleasure are gone? I can’t live without them, they are part of what makes me who I am.” The notion that they were no longer mine was more than I could handle.
It was here that I realized the conflict between flesh and Spirit was clashing within me in a battle more fierce than I could ever remember. The problem is when you already feel you are spinning out of control because of the circumstances in which you find yourself, this type of inner conflict brings your sinfulness to the surface along with reminders of past indiscretions. Once guilt was added to the mix, I was devastated. I had nothing left: everything I thought I was standing on was systematically dislodged from beneath me. I don’t think I could have plummeted any lower.
This, however, was exactly were 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 that are 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 may not sit well with many, but it is important to remember that God is more concerned with our spiritual growth than our worldly prosperity, and often He will sacrifice the latter to promote the former.
Even the disciples who had seen Christ perform many miracles finally marveled when it was their boat that was at stake. Ultimately the problem is this, we see Christ’s power to calm the storm as interesting until our boat is at risk, then it is imperative. Our Savior is not looking for people who admire His power from a distance, His children are the ones who know their very lives depend upon Him. Only then are we able to go out and comfort others where we have been comforted. Though everything I thought I was standing on crumbled beneath me, when it had all been destroyed, I found myself standing on the Rock of Christ Jesus. The storm is a gift.
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts. – Proverbs 17:3