Monday, January 28, 2013

Facing Our Storms

More than once during a massive thunderstorm, I have been awakened from a deep sleep.  Not by the crashes coming from the sky or the intense thump of rain on the roof, but by a very small and very frightened black and tan dog - our miniature pinscher, Doobie.  (Yep, that's him - all dressed up for Christmas.)

During his bouts of anxiety, he has a very clear process he goes through to emotionally comfort himself.  First, Doobie burrows under the covers, slinks his way up towards my head, and sits as close as possible to my face, shivering.  If this does not alert me to the impending storm, he will then walk across my face to the other side of my head.  I can't see it, of course, because it is dark, but since there is something about warm dog breath three inches from your nose in the middle of the night, I am aware of his presence.  By the time the lightning flashes twice, Doobie has migrated to a standing position atop my chest cavity, and has put his nose as close to mine as possible without actually touching.

Sometimes I am compassionate and make every futile attempt to assure him.  Other times I am irritated at being shaken from my comfortable rest by smelly dog feet on my face.  Either way, I try to explain to him that there is no danger, he is safe, and I will not let any harm come to him.  Still, he is inconsolable.  He hides beneath the bed, the night stand, whining and scraping at me with his paw.

Yet, because I have wiser reasoning than a dog who still barks at our kids as though they are strangers every time he sees them walking home from the school bus, I know that this storm will pass and Doobie won't even remember it tomorrow.  Therefore, I try to be as gentle as possible because I know that his anxiety is very real to him, that the rumbles of the storm force him into gale-force trembling until he sees the sunshine once again. 

At some point, though, I get a bit frustrated that he won't just listen to me when I try to soothe him.  In my estimation, there are much more horrific things going on in the world than his little anxiety, but he is so fixated it consumes him.  He can't just let go and enjoy the warm, dry home, and companionship of his family.  No matter how often he comes to me for consolation, he ignores and rejects it when I give it to him, only to lean on his own understanding that the world is going to end and I won’t do anything about it.

I wonder if I am experiencing just a fraction of what God must feel each time we bring our anxieties to Him. We lay them at His feet to be sure He is aware of them, ask for His help, then continue to dwell on them, wondering why He won't make everything better.  We lean on our own understanding, and ignore His Word, which tells us, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble!” (Ps. 46:1), and "Fear not, for I Am with you!” (Jer. 46:28). We continue to try to make things better our own way.  We weakly scrape at our problem, not allowing ourselves to be consoled even when He says, "Cast all your cares upon [Me], for [I care] for you!” (1 Peter 5:7)

What must God think when we bring our problems to Him and then don't trust that He is big enough to take care of them Himself?  Perhaps our present circumstances seem as overwhelming to us as a thunderstorm is to a 14-pound dog. Perhaps we think we know better and have more control over our lives than He does.  Or perhaps we are so consumed by our current fear that we have disabled ourselves in the trust department and haven't yet realized that, from God's omniscient point of view, we won't even remember this particular storm tomorrow.

Yet, He is there, faithfully, to listen and help us through our problems. If I can have compassion on my little dog, how much more can our God have compassion on us when we are in fear?  If I can speak words of comfort to this shivering, anxious animal and hold him close, how much closer is the Lord in every situation of our lives? 

God has control of our storms, no matter how big they might seem to us, and He is there with us, too. When we are screaming and sobbing, when we think we can't take any more and we are going to drown, He is there to make our storm subside. (Luke 8:22-25) He knows how our problems began and how they will end.  He is there to console us, protect us, and guide us through whatever we are facing and lead us to the other side.   

When God promises us that everything will be all right in the morning, He is never wrong!

Stephanie Jean