Last week Matt, Nora, and I vacationed with Matt’s family and my sister at the beach in South Carolina. We stayed in a beautiful condo at Litchfield-by-the-Sea and bathed ourselves in sunshine and family togetherness. It was egg-frying hot and the air was wet, reminding me of home in Naples.
I remembered how much I love vacation. Not just for the relaxing time by the pool and family game nights (by the way, Matt and I now play bridge if anyone in Arkansas wants to start a snooty Thursday night bridge club), but for the plane flights and unpacking and waking up in a new bed and my mother-in-law’s spinach omelets.
As I sat on the sunny beach next to my husband and kept an eye on baby girl (who was enjoying the ocean breeze from underneath her umbrella), I thought, life can’t get any better than this. I sat in my beach chair, dreaming of future beach trips with lots of cousins, tiny bathing suits hogging up the towel racks in the bathroom, sand castles, and the smells of sunblock and saltwater. We have so much to look forward to, and so much to be thankful for.
But it won’t always be like this. The sun won’t always be shining. (I know, total Debbie Downer moment- but hear me out…) On Friday of our trip, it poured cats and dogs and the wind blew so hard that whole palm branches were ripped from the trees and pieces of the roof blew clear away. We stayed inside and watched the news. It was still really fun.
Life can still be good when sunshine is interrupted by dark clouds. I think of when the disciples were being tossed around in a terrible storm, and they woke Jesus and said, “Save us Lord, we are perishing.” In His sovereignty, Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves and “there was a great calm.” The disciples wondered, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:24-27). In their darkest hour, the scared disciples were given a gift: assurance that God can protect them. Assurance that they need not fear. During difficult times when we aren’t enjoying a book by the pool or a friendly game of Taboo (if such a thing exists), when we are face down in the dirt with no clear hope– we can remember that Christ is on board with us, ready to ask us why we are “of little faith.” And sometimes during our trials God graciously gives us a clearer understanding of Himself. Just as Job states at the end of his terrible suffering, “I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You…” (42:5).
When my thunderclouds start rolling in, I pray that my heart will be comforted with the knowledge that Jesus is always present in the storms. The storms we face may be family health issues, tragic loss, difficulties at work, seasons of low self-esteem, or broken relationships. (Living here in Arkansas our storm may actually be a storm- this is tornado central, y’all). I want to always remember God’s promise in Isaiah 43:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” (43:1-2).
May we all be ready to call upon the name of our Savior when our tribulation comes, ready to faithfully seek the help of He who never fails. As Charles Spurgeon said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” What a blessing storms can be. Especially if you’re stuck inside a condo with cable and a full kitchen.
But for now, I’ll just soak up the sun with a heart full of thanks.