Like most great mountain top faith-empowering experiences, there is usually season of faith-trying experiences that follows. We survive storms like getting fired, finding out our spouse or significant other has betrayed us or a bad diagnosis from the doctor. Yet, we end up nearly drowning in the sea of faithlessness that often follows these storms. In fact, it is in those seasons of going through the valley that our faith is tried the most. If we trust God while we walk through the valley, we develop the spiritual stamina that increases our faith.
How do you survive the storm’s aftermath? Do you adopt the boldness of Peter, and begin walking on water, then take your eyes off Jesus and panic when you feel yourself drowning? Some of us may be even bolder and decide to ride the waves of doubt, despair, and confusion and fear that often follow a storm because we don’t know what’s better to do. Like spiritual surf-boarders, we try our best to ride on top of those waves. Nevertheless, like all good surfers, we may have one or two times that we wipeout and find ourselves engulfed by the waves. We don’t realize that God has given us power through our faith to make the storm waves calm down.
A few years ago, I had one of those weeks where a mini storm occurred in my home all related to an area of my life where I’m the weakest: mechanical problems. The following happened within days of each other: the dishwasher stopped working in the middle of a wash cycle leaving the dishes halfway washed and resting in a pool of water, the living room lamp blew a light and half of the light bulb got stuck when I attempted to replace it and even in the midst of all this, I experienced a brief electrical blackout at home.
Had these things happened about 15 years earlier, I probably would have been anxious. What, if anything, was God trying to tell me? Had I opened the door to these calamities through sin and was now reaping the harvest in my electrical life? One thing I realized based on my response is that I did a much better job at keeping my focus, a key factor in keeping faith. My focus remained on God and the promises in His word. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Reflecting back, I realize that there was also a bigger spiritual lesson in this: the sudden losses of power were similar to when a major life-altering experience causes us to lose our faith-focus. Just like some optical vision exam tests our depth of vision, we have to focus through the eyes of faith on what appears farthest from us and not the things that are closest that distract us.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.