Spring was in the air; I could smell it. All that remained of the snow in my yard was a narrow path where it had drifted. Trees that were void of life all winter were filled with more robins than I have ever seen in one place. The birds were chirping, the puddles were growing, and neighbors were emerging from their homes to play after a long winter. And a long winter it had been: colder than average for days and weeks on end; snowstorm after snowstorm; front after front passing through. Just as hope of spring began to emerge, it was crushed like a row of cars beneath the wheels of a monster truck.
The crushing consisted of every form of precipitation possible. The local news and my Facebook feed were full of people complaining about the weather. The winter storm was invading our spring. It was unwelcome. I could tell as soon as I woke up that this storm was a doozy. The first few times I woke up I couldn't quite make it out of bed. When I finally did get up, it was so incredibly beautiful outside that I had to capture it on camera. There was something about this particular storm that was breathtakingly beautiful.
Later in the day, I was sitting in my living room watching the wind blow chunks of snow and ice off the trees. Suddenly the sun came out and it was glorious! The sun glistened off the ice covering the tree branches and they glowed. It reminded me that no matter how miserable life is, no matter how much we must suffer, there is beauty to be found. It is up to me to open my eyes and not only see that beauty, but appreciate it and thank God for it. I'm learning that the more difficult the suffering, the more unwanted the storm, the more beauty is found there...if I have eyes to see it.
The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard. The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.
No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as He said.
Just when all hope was lost, an angel of God appeared to Paul to encourage him. Out of the darkest night came the bright light of God’s messenger of hope. We can’t know what Paul felt when this happened, but I imagine he was filled with joy, hope, peace, courage for the journey ahead, and a deep thankfulness to God for this special gift.
God could have spared the lives of Paul and the crew without sending an angel. Instead, out of his love for Paul, He sent an angel to renew his hope and ease his fears. God does the same for us. He could bring us through the struggle we are in any way He chooses. Yet, by His grace, He chooses to send us special gifts of encouragement and blessings that will help us through the day, give us hope for the future, and strength to continue on the journey.
We make a choice each and every day. We either choose to cave to the outward pressures of our physical circumstances or we choose to let our spirits dance to the rhythm of God's love for us. Keep your eyes open for God’s special gifts to you. Make a conscious choice to praise God in the storms of life, knowing that He will not only provide a way through, but will also encourage you along the way.
"I'll praise You in this storm. And I will lift my hands. For You are who You are. No matter where I am." ~Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns
© April 9, 2014