Our little girl hates thunder. I can hardly blame her; it’s often far too loud and surprisingly too close. I can recall one afternoon though, when her fear met its match. Her mother and I stood behind her on our covered porch, watching as her two-year old mind tried to process the quickly approaching clouds and growing darkness before her. When she realized the storm was not diminishing as she hoped and began to feel its low rumbles under her feet, she froze. We half-expected a repeat of the day before, when a similar storm evoked a cry so intense, it rivaled the volume of the thunder she so feared. But today was different.
Her concerned facial expression deceived us, as she now began to signify a calm confidence. She was afraid, but she knew also knew something. We watched as she began to nod to herself, continuing to gaze at the ominous weather, and whispered just loudly enough where we could hear, “Dada’s got me. Mama’s got me”- seemingly reminding herself of the truth she’d heard from us so many times, reassuring herself that this truth has gotten her through thus far and must be reliable enough to trust. In this moment, we could see our little girl drawing strength from our presence.
A Greater Source for Strength
We all draw strength from something- whether it be an over-zealous confidence in our abilities or something outside ourselves altogether. Christians have a unique foundation for strength which has no rival. Christians can draw strength from the One with all strength, in whom there could be no true threat.
Something I’m beginning to realize in this life, and continually struggling to remember, is that I am very weak. Our daughter standing against a thunderstorm is a tiny comparison to the situations each one of us face each day. Medical diagnoses, financial burdens, family strife, personal loss, interpersonal conflict, and a host of other circumstances reveal just how weak we are. Yet, despite our smallness, as Christians, we can stand secure no matter the circumstance, as we draw strength from Christ Himself.
Christ offers us a shelter from the storm, a foundation for strength, in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promise of imminent return. No matter the season, He is the only true source for our peace, hope, joy, security, stability, encouragement, and so much more.
In the best of times though, temptations abound to find my strength in circumstance and success, acting as if I am my own master and control my own destiny. In this charade though, I fail to experience that which my heart most desires. When I must control my peace, I fret. When I must realize my hopes, I agonize. When I must satisfy my longings, I endure pains. When I must encourage myself through accomplishments, I often despair over missed opportunities.
As tempting as it is to act as master of my own fate, it certainly does not offer any type of lasting rest or comfort. When you’re in control, you always have to be on– incessantly working because you don’t believe He is. In the best of times, my strength must come from outside of myself.
Even in the worst of times, I’m still tempted to draw strength outside of Christ- whether it be through empty flattering (“You deserve better.”) or vain commiseration (“I can’t believe that happened to you, that’s so unfair.”) Empty words can often take the place of responding well to our fears being realized. Godly lament recognizes that even in the midst of fear, challenge, and weakness, Christ is near. He is the Friend of failures. He loves when the weak come to Him for strength. In those moments, He gets to be for us all that He promises, and we get to enjoy His fullness. In the midst of weakness, our solace should be nothing less than Christ Himself.
And so, whether it be the best of times or the worst of times, we must continue to scour our once-rebel hearts for any felt traces of former allegiances to false strengths, so that Christ may truly be all for us, our greatest and only source of strength.
The Sunshine is Sure
The afternoon our daughter stood against the storm, the Lord was kind to quell its intensity; for just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. The clouds had rolled away, the thunder had quieted to a whisper, and the sunshine began to peer down through the sky. As the rays caught her eyes, she perked up, shouting with excitement, “Sunbeam! Sunbeam! I go play?”
Our daughter’s trials from a stormy week increased her faith in the strength of her parents, but even more importantly though, I think, she saw a resolution to her fears. And even in a situation as small as this, I was reminded- there will not always be clouds for the Christian. Perhaps in this life. But one day, there will be no more fear. We’ll enjoy His presence each day. For there is endless sunshine in the Celestial City.