Although true northerners might laugh at our little cold sweep, it’s probably the closest south Texans will ever get to a snowstorm. Just two weeks ago, a winter deluge held us hostage for six days. The snow has long since melted with temperatures back up in the 70s, but the icy phenomena left behind some golden nuggets of truth, as trials tend to do.
We should have been more prepared. Indeed, weather experts warned us to get ready for snow and ice. However, as is often the case, preparations fell mournfully short. The storm lasted longer, and the power grid failed sooner than anyone expected. The first response? Panic! But after the shock, we all moved into survival mode. The fact is that people and circumstances thwart good plans, mother nature trips us up, and we are simply forced to deal with it. Like athletes learn how to fall safely, we roll with the attack and pull up our snow boots.
The day before being homebound, my girlfriends surprised me with an early birthday celebration! As a result, I had some extra items that really came in quite handy: a blanket, a candle, and (most importantly) chocolate. The “Roll with It” T-shirt that one gave me was...prophetic!? T-shirt aside, my joy tank was recharged and ready for the subsequent time of drought. And so it is in the Kingdom of God. We may not recognize this, but He slips provisions in our pack that are often revealed and exercised only when disaster strikes or a time of testing draws them out.
The long snow days were spent figuring out how to cook without power, clean without using water and stay warm with layers and blankets. My daughter and grandson were with us, so we also spent time inventing ways to keep him occupied – like pulling him through the hallways in a cozy basket. Neighbors came together to offer aid in the form of firewood, water, and food. Others posted all the wonderful acts of service witnessed during our downtime. My friend Faith made the best of it and donned snow skis to get to the grocery store! Admittedly, we all took turns pouting about having no restaurant food and grumbling about being cold. But through it all, we worked together and consoled each other.
I’ve heard that one can experience euphoria after finishing a race, a high that a marathoner feels. Perhaps the relief and gratitude experienced in the aftermath of the storm is something similar. Sitting in a sunny window seat watching the snow shine and sparkle brightly as it melted, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Like many others, our household lost power; we had to boil water and burned all our firewood. But we survived, never going hungry or thirsty.
The end of the hazardous weather wasn’t the end of its aftereffects. There were a couple days of muddy mess to slosh through and pipes to fix. Even now, there’s still a lot of cleanup to do for some. Store shelves are still being restocked and plumbers are overbooked. Electric bills may take a while to pay off. Additionally, we must deal with the psychological effects that many people experience after a traumatic or monumental task. After all the hype is over and the endorphins settle back to normal, what do we do? Cry. Sleep. Order a burger and fries.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 NKJV
The mental strain that survival requires cannot be ignored. We must give ourselves permission to rest, to engage in restorative care, to mourn. We are strong, but we are also frail humans. Mere mortals. Bible study teacher Beth Moore shared that she often experiences depression after writing a book or study and must mentally prepare for it and take time for recovery. The Bible teaches us that we will have troubles and trials, so the miracle and unique perspective of a Christian life is to actually “count it all joy” in the midst of suffering and to lean on the Master when we are weary.
Sometimes, for some people, positivity and resilience come easily – special gifts. But for most of us, it’s a practiced habit, a kingdom principle, a Biblical truth we need to continually remind ourselves of. When we allow the Holy Spirit to instruct us, we remember that God does not waste our pain. He’s always up to something good. That’s the way of it all, isn’t it? We hunker down, weather the storm, and deal with the aftermath. We count our blessings, rest, and put on the armor for another day. If we are wise, we will have learned something along the way as well.