“My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!”– Psalm 57:7
My little pup, Oliver, and I have been working on the phrase, “Stay.” He will sometimes disobey the command and follow me, but on the occasion that he does let me go to another room, when I return, he’s sitting exactly as I left him his eyes fixed and watching for me to come back. Sometimes I’ll tell him to stay and I’ll walk a circle around him. This is what he hates the most. He will flip that little head around as much as he can so he can see me, and then when he can’t turn it any more, he’ll quickly flip his butt around too. When he knows I’m coming home from work in the afternoon, there he is standing in his crate with his eyes fixed on the door. He knows I am his master. He loves me, trusts me, and he wants to be able to keep his eyes on me.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Hebrews 12:1-2. It says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Sometimes the race marked out for us isn’t easy and we encounter trials and storms. In the midst of these storms, perseverance is so very hard. Storms are exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For me, personally, they drain me of all energy to even try. When storms come, it is so easy to look away from our Lord, to take matters into our own hands, and to forget that we have a Savior who is always working on our behalf, even when we cannot see it. We have a Savior who will use these moments to perfect our faith if we will just keep our eyes on Him and trust Him fully.
Focus on God, not on problems
In Matthew 14, when the storm is raging all around the disciples, Peter had faith to step out and walk on water. He kept his eyes fixed on Jesus. For a moment, he looks away, distracted by the storm around him. In that one moment, he begins to sink and cries out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus then reaches out His hand and saves Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Where we focus our eyes… matters. In the midst of a storm, if we are focused on the storm itself, it can bring feelings of fear, resentment, jealousy, anger, doubt, etc. In the midst of a storm, we must keep our eyes fixed on our Lord and Savior, and run toward Him with perseverance through prayer and time in His word. He WILL pull us through. He never promised it would be easy and He never promised it would be the outcome we had in mind, but He did promise to take care of us. He will get us through, but we must surrender all to Him and trust Him completely.
Focus on your purpose
We also have to remember our storms aren’t always just for us. The journey and the lessons we learn in the storm are important. The journey and the lessons shape us as individuals and give us our testimony, which can in turn equip us to give other people strength and courage when they face similar storms of their own.
Looking back at my precious pup, my little Ollie-boy, he came to me as an extremely anxious little guy who had gone through things no animal ever should. He had storms of his own. He didn’t love me or trust me right away. As a matter of fact, he didn’t come near me and would run from me for about 2 weeks. He wouldn’t dare to look me in the eye. He would cower and shake. It broke my heart. I remember not understanding why he couldn’t trust me and why he couldn’t see the blessings and the love I could give him. With time, patience, and love, he eventually learned to trust me. He learned I was his safe place. He learned I was on his side. And since then, his eyes are always fixed on me.
Friend, if you’re still reading this, I encourage you to do the same with our God in the midst of your storm. He’s there. He never left. He wants you to trust and He wants to be your safe place. No matter how the circumstances may seem, He is on your side. All it requires is that we step out in faith, keep our eyes fixed on Him, and trust Him to carry us through.