Once upon a time when I was in college, I started driving down the highway one night to get back to school, not realizing that I was driving straight into a very dangerous storm. Through my own stupidity, I kept driving instead of seeking shelter, despite how terrified I was. I found out later I’d driven through tornadic activity and a flash flood warning. How could I not have known the storm was coming? Simple — I didn’t check the weather before I hit the road, so I was unprepared for that which I didn’t know was coming.
More recently, I was going to drive from Indianapolis to Cincinnati after work, and there was a severe thunderstorm raging around us a couple hours before I was supposed to leave. I checked the weather multiple times and found that I would actually be following the storm along my drive. During my drive, there was no terrified feeling, no stress, and not even a few raindrops along the whole trip. I knew it would be a peaceful drive, because I had checked the weather. I was prepared.
A preacher I know used to say regularly in his sermons, “You’re either in the storm, coming out of one, or headed into one.” His intended meaning went beyond our known global weather patterns, just FYI.
Storms in this life are going to happen. We know this for a fact. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12. But we sometimes still are surprised. But if we remain aware that storms will come, whether immediately or in the distant future, then we can be prepared and not be caught off guard.
So how can we be prepared?
Like the verse says, don’t be surprised. Jesus said that the life of His follower would be difficult: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Let us also keep in mind that this life is merely temporary, as are its troubles.
And troubles will come. Verse 13 continues: “Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” The Lord allows troubles to come our way because He knows what’s best. And yeah, His ways are higher than ours. I can cry out with all that is within me, begging God, “WHY?” and “I don’t understand!” And I have had some nights where I have done just that. Peace comes when I let go of the need to know why. I’ve learned it’s called “faith” for a reason.
1 Peter 1:6-7, “ So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (bold mine)
James 1:2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Trials, troubles, struggles, the problems of this life are not easy. I’m not trying to make them seem insignificant in the slightest. But they will come. When we have an idea of what is coming, we can be prepared for it, even though we can’t predict exactly what that will be. Remember that this life is not all there is. Our hope, our reward, our Lord is beyond it all and wants us to enjoy eternity with Him.
Romans 5:3-5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
James 1:12, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”