The Courage and Strength to Weather the StormDan Doyle
The fierce beauty of nature, of land, sea and sky often fills us with unutterable wonder and joy. We have all had the experience of being ‘struck dumb’ in the presence of natural beauty and realized our smallness. We have also known the experience of nature’s fury in storms of various kinds. In those cases, too, we have felt our smallness and our vulnerability in the face of it. It always amazes us how fragile and incompetent we are when the things we have come to depend upon without a thought are suddenly gone and are not restored for days; things like electricity, food and potable water supplies, even shelter. But storms pass, and those who have stood firm begin the process rebuilding and, in time, beauty returns.
This verse from Proverbs uses the very powerful metaphor of storms to make a point about standing firm. Of course, there are storms like those expressed above, but sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of different kinds of ‘storms,’ those created by our own bad choices and actions, or those of others. When we are the ones being affected by the bad decisions and actions of others, we often react by responding in like manner, which only continues, or even increases the violence of the ‘storm.’ Or, we can cower in fear and do nothing which only serves to empower and enable those who are perpetrating the sin of these ‘storms.’ Or we can choose to respond like mature Christians by challenging the situation with God’s righteous love, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy.
More intimately, though, the ‘storms’ that are most familiar to us are those within our own private consciences. We know what is right and what is wrong, yet we are often caught up in the storms of temptations that appeal to our sense of pleasure, or to our ego, and we are overwhelmed. We give in to them. There are corporal and spiritual forces, after all, that desire to destroy us, or to take us away from the good and from God. Sometimes they are as subtle as beguiling thoughts of false innocence, at others they are as fierce as the stirrings of abject fear, or of arrogant pride. As Christians we do not have to face these storms alone. We have an Advocate. We know that the The Holy Spirit is always present to us, even more so in the moments when we are threatened by storms of this life. The Spirit is always there to guide us and to support us, but the Spirit always leaves us free as well. If we listen more and more regularly to that protective voice of calming wisdom, we will be more prepared to withstand these inevitable storms that arise from within or without more righteously, more like Christ.
The reality is that all of us, at times, are temporarily swept away by the storms that come our way, both externally and internally in this life. We must never forget, though, that we belong to a loving God. Though we have, since the beginning, succumbed to the storms of pride, greed, jealousy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth, God’s love for us is never diminished. Rather, in Jesus, he showed us how great his love and his compassion was, is and always will be for us. The truth is that even the worst of storms will eventually pass. If we learn to stand firm in our faith and in our commitment to God’s commandments of love, we will not only survive these storms, we will be ready to take our place among the righteous, both here and in heaven.
Lord, help us to continue to develop our consciences in relation to your commandments of love. Give us the courage and the strength not only to endure the storms that come our way, but to rise above them. In our reading of Scripture, in our Church services, and in our daily prayer lives, increase our knowledge of what is really good and what is really evil. Give us the grace to develop the moral character to choose the good more and more regularly, even in the face of the fiercest of this life’s storms. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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