Stilling The Storms Inside

I posted a verse in my notes a couple of years ago, and I have glanced at it scores of times but never felt the urge to reflect on it until today. 

Here it is: 

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed." Psalm 107:28-29

There's something about that verse that is both troubling and comforting at the same time.  First, let me address the comforting part. 

We all want to know that when the storms of life are bearing down on us, and the waves of trouble and challenge keep crashing and sending us spinning and gasping for air, God isn't here to calm the storm and lift us to safety. 

But what about when we cried out to God in our trouble, and the storm didn't let up?  What about the moments when we felt like we were drowning and the waves didn't relent?  

So the troubling aspect of this verse is that there are storms, which don't often abate, even when we beg God to still them.   

I don't know about you, but there have been more than a few moments in my life like that. 

Years ago, I begged God to heal my mom when she was terribly ill, and the outcome was grim.  I prayed fervently, offering bargains, pleading for God to intervene and provide any way toward healing, and it never came. 

The waves just kept coming, the storm didn't let up, and she passed away far too soon.  

I'm guessing that many of you have stories where all your begging, praying, and pleading were met with only one wave after another, and the storm raged on.  

But what I've come to understand about that verse and its promise is that the storms and waves that are the most damaging don't come from the outside; they come from the inside. 

Most of us want God to quiet the storm of our circumstances, but God offers something more healing and long-lasting if we embrace its gift...  

God quiets the storms within our souls.  

Sometimes, the circumstances don't change.  Sometimes they do.  The circumstances aren't the issue, though, although most choose to focus on them.  It's easy to blame the circumstances because the storms they bring can feel unrelenting and awful. 

But the storms within us are the ones that cause the most damage in the end.  When we fight the waves of doubt, fear, inadequacy, grief, and anger, that struggle can leave us far more exhausted than any external challenge.  

The Psalmist who wrote the line from Psalm 107 seems to have an inkling of this and speaks directly into that existential storm that God quiets when we surrender, saying to God, "This is too much; you take it." 

Surrender isn't easy. 

When you think about what it feels like to fight a rough surf, straining to keep from being swamped by the waves, you get some idea of what it's like within our souls when we keep fighting beyond the point of exhaustion. 

Our every instinct is to fight, to struggle, to try to find control.  

When we finally cry out to the Lord in our trouble and let go of our need to determine our outcomes on our own, a miraculous thing happens... 

The waves within lose their punch, the wind of fear and frustration dies away, and we find ourselves floating on the surface of a glassy sea. 

The storm of our circumstances may continue to rage on, but surrendering our outcomes can create a stillness within us. 

If you find yourself in stormy circumstances that have wrought an even more powerful storm within you, there is help and hope in a simple prayer of surrender and letting go of everything that is wearing you out inside. 

May you find the peace you seek and the stillness within you long for. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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