Nebraska storm photo on HWY 30 (credit to Darren White)

It’s a clear, sunny afternoon. The light breeze blowing the daffodils and green leaves on the trees begins to die down, and things become quiet—maybe a little too quiet. Gray clouds begin to form in the distance and you check the weather forecast on your watch. A storm is brewing quickly and you have little time to prepare or plan for safety. The warm air begins to feel chilly on your skin, and you already see faint strikes of lightning in the distance. At this point, you could run home and warn everyone, but they’ve likely gotten the alerts on their devices as well. They know and will respond as they see fit. All the signs are there for a nasty storm, and there’s no escaping this one. Raindrops start to fall, and those billowing gray clouds have quickly turned to monstrous spinners in the sky. The storm could be miles away, but it’s approaching quickly. Thunder shakes the ground as you begin to run home, and before you know it, your vision is blurred by the hail, winds, and darkness. Your cries for help can’t be heard by loved ones because they’re also caught in the storm. You wonder how things turned from calm to chaos so quickly and you pray that your loved ones are safe. The disastrous storm strikes with a vengeance. It destroys the daffodils, the leaves, the trees, and people’s homes for miles. Before you know it, you’re sucked in. Your life flashes like lightning and crashes to the ground like thunder. Blackout.

The wind dies down, and things become quiet. You slowly open your eyes and see the sun is shining again. Somehow you survived the storm! You look around. There are broken tree branches and leftover debris everywhere. The pretty flowers are gone, and the ground is torn apart. The once standing homes and buildings are flattened, and you see emptiness for miles away. Things changed drastically in such a short amount of time! As you look ahead, you realize that the deepest damages of the storm remain to be seen over time, and the affected lands may look different forever. The beauty before the storm may only be a memory, and restoration from the storm may seem miles away. You close your eyes and smile, remembering the srong trees you thought would live forever, the delicate flowers that were so innocent, and the warm sunshine that once surrounded you. You remember the family that once seemed so close, now divided across miles, but, hopefully safe.

Your body may be weak from trying to stand in the storm. Your heart may ache because you see the damage from the storm’s winds in your life and those around you. Your mind may flood as you imagine the cleanup ahead, and it may feel lonely as you start picking up the pieces of debris by yourself.

But, you look up to the clear skies, the shining sun, and to the Lord—trusting in his faithfulness. He protected you through the storm. You don’t know how, and at times you couldn’t even see straight. Your life is changed, and your loved ones are affected also. When you cried for help and no one heard, He did. When you were terrified and felt more alone than ever, He never left your side. Life is different now. The storm affected everyone, and now, just like you, they are looking out wondering what lies ahead. They experienced the storm’s destruction in their own ways, and they may never understand what you went through at the end of the day. You may never understand their view of the storm either, and that’s ok.

Sometimes the calm after the storm is more difficult to face than the storm itself. We all go through storms in life. Some are rain showers that last for an a short time. Some are slippery ice storms that last for a couple of days. Some are fires that grow from small sparks over years, and some hit like a tornado when we least expect it. Storms, no matter the intensity, shake us. They send us down slippery slopes, into blowing winds, and dark times, however our God is the One who (in His timing) calms the storm. In His time, He takes destruction and turns it into beauty. In His time, He takes broken hearts and He mends them. So no matter what storm you may be approaching, in the midst of, or if you’re in the calm after a storm, remember that He protects us, (not always in the ways we imagine) in the ways He knows will bring us closer to himself. He is faithful, and He is good.