Spiritual Storms happen for all of us, expect them, prepare for them, be ready for them! This article will help you do a few things to both prepare AND help you get out of the storms faster. I pray it helps you. I pray you endure and overcome the storm with grace and dignity and that the storm causes you to have deeper-than-ever-before faith in God, his power, and his love for you! Don’t focus on getting out. Counter-intuitive, I know, but trust me here. Do not focus on getting out of the storm, do not waste time and energy hoping for it to end, that’s just wasted. And I know that you don’t have any of that to waste. Instead focus on learning and growing your way through the storm. If all you want is to get out of the storm you’ll miss out on the lessons you have to learn- and that often means you will need to have another storm happen later to try and teach you the missed lessons. And you’ll miss out on the blessings during the storm if all you can see is getting out of it. Yes, there are blessings in the middle of every single storm, you just need to look for them; the people who help you through, the prayers others pray for you, the way your faith grows, the clearing out of old garbage, thoughts, emotions, and the like that you didn’t even know were still hanging around, those all happen during storms. Don’t sit there and wish for the storm to end, wish for the lesson you’re learning to be a good one, one you’ll never forget, and the blessing you’re getting to be bigger than anything you’ve ever gotten before. Have praying friends. And then ask them to pray! Part 1 is good, part 2 is even better! Surround yourself with friends, a tribe, a sisterhood, a network, a group of like-minded believers who will stop and pray, lifting you and your storms to heaven, believing with and maybe even FOR you that the storm will end and you will be blessed. Then, you need to lay down your pride and reach out to those folks, put aside the “I’ll do it myself” and ask them to pray with and for you. Remember, even Jesus asked his best friends to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, before he was betrayed and went to be crucified. Pray for Yourself. It’s good to have praying friends, you need them, but you must also pray for yourself. You must pray the same prayers of faith over you and your situation that you would pray over anyone else’s. You must believe that God will work here for you just like he would for your best friend. You have to speak life and pray in gratitude knowing that God is God, he is just, he is sovereign, and he does all things for the good of his children. Be warned, don’t start praying your way out of the storm, or praying for it to end, instead look at #1 and pray that way. Pray for a good and lasting lesson, pray for big storm-delivered blessings. Ask God for a Word or Vision or Promise. Then be quiet and still for as long as it takes. That second part is what trips all of us up. We’re good at asking, not so good at sitting and waiting to hear from God. Trust me on this one, in your prayer ask him to send you a vision, a word, or a promise verse, and then relax. Open your heart and mind, and just wait on him in peace until he answers. Do not assume that just because time passes means that God is not going to answer you, remember time for him is not like time for us; he doesn’t have a watch or a calendar, all things happen in his time. Look for signs as you continue on about your day, maybe you see the same word over and over again on signs or billboards or posters– perhaps that’s your word? Be open to the scriptures your praying friends (see #3) send to you to help you through the storm, often friends will send the same verses without collaborating- perhaps that’s your promise verse? Pay attention to your dreams or day-dreams, where does your mind go when it’s free to wander? Perhaps that’s your vision of what your future will look like after you endure this storm? God has been known to speak in words, I’ve heard him loud and clear often in my own head, but more often than not he speaks in signs and symbols and through other people. Frequently I’ve asked friends to pray and have had them feed me scriptures to help me through and several, we’re talking 6 or 7 people here, have sent the EXACT SAME VERSE. I have to stop and say “Ok God, I am getting the picture now, that’s my verse to help me overcome this!” I’ve also been driving down the same streets I’ve driven hundreds of times before but today I see all the billboards and signs, even little staked signs in the ground that have been there forever but today I actually see them and their message. I remember vividly one time I was feeling hopeless and all I saw was “hope” after hope after hope on my drive home. I couldn’t help myself, all I could do was cry and say “Thank you God, I know you’re telling me to stay hopeful and I will.” After you’ve asked your job is to wait on God’s answer. And I don’t mean you must sit perfectly still like a monk, I know that is not reality for most modern-day people, it’s simply not possible, and forget about it for those with a full-time job and/or children. This instruction is to wait with an open heart, mind and spirit, looking around you for what God has to say, being open to the people he sends to speak to you, and the signs or symbols he is giving you. You will get your answer, just know it will rarely come in your time and never in your way. Keep looking anyway! Repeat the Promises of Scripture Out Loud. Say verses of scripture out loud over yourself and your situation. I pray often the verse in the gospels where Jesus spoke to the storm on the sea of Galilee and said Peace Be Still” . Say the verses your friends send you, say the ones your learned in Sunday School growing up, say the ones you read this morning, just say them. Using your voice is powerful for two reasons: first it activates your subconscious mind that this verse, it’s true, it;s reality, not the other nonsense that’s running through your mind and tells your subconscious to begin to change your reality to match that promise. And second, saying the verses out loud tells satan and his demons that you mean business, you are not accepting this storm lying down, you are taking the fight to him with the scriptures of truth from the mouth of God. Satan doesn’t like scripture; use that fact and the scriptures to overcome the storm and remind him of his future while he’s acting up in yours. Be sure to say these out loud, even if it’s hard, especially if it’s hard, say them again and again and then again until the storm is over Let Go of the Fear And tell it to let go of you. Fear strangles us in a storm. Fear of sinking in the ship when the water’s coming in, fear losing our family, our finances, our friends, and so much more. Fear keeps us sitting still right in the middle of the storm rather than moving forward and making our way out of the storm. Thankfully, fear is just an emotion, albeit a powerful one, and believe it or not, you have full power to control all of your emotions, fear included. Learn how to exercise that control and tell fear to take a hike. I know it both sounds and feels impossible to control fear, I know you’re shaking your head at me right now saying I’m crazy and I have no idea how badly your fear is killing you. I may not know the exact extent of your situation but I do know that fear is an emotion just like all of the rest of them. The only difference in fear and joy is that fear is meaner, a bully if you will, and seeks to control you by well, fear. You know what you have to do to bully’s, right? Stand up to them just like your mom told you to do in middle school. Stand up to your fear, tell it to leave, tell it that it is powerless, speak scriptures about fear to the fear itself and tell it again that it is powerless. Keep doing this for a bit, fear will laugh at you the first time you stand up to it, but persist anyway, and soon fear will get the picture that you are not weak and are not to be messed it. It will leave- don’t stop standing up to it! Replace fear with peace. The Holy Spirit is peace, remember Jesus told us when he ascended into heaven that he leaves a comforter for us, the Spirit, and that the Spirit is one of peace. Pray for peace. Pray believing that you are deserving of peace, right in the middle of the storm (this is where #5 comes in handy for me, I say Jesus’ words over the storm inside my head “Peace be still” and command the nonsense running around in there to be at peace) When, notice I did not say if, the peace of the Holy Spirit comes to you give no resistance. Don’t let the story in your head keep you from accepting that peace. Do not say you aren’t deserving, and do not make a choice to stay in the storm rather than to rest in peace. Open up and accept the peace. Try a visualization; see yourself filling from head to toe with the warm, golden or white light of the Spirit, lighting up every part of you, making you feel warm and comforted, so that there is no more room for any of the dark clouds that come with storms. That light is peace. Let the peace fill every part of you. Battle Rationally As a believer we all know rationally the scriptures and the promises of God, logically we know that God has us well taken care of, knows that we’re in the storm and he hasn’t left us. But in the heat of the moment it is easy to forget all of the logical and rationale and rely only on instinct, and instinct’s first reaction is panic. That’s okay, you’re human, you’re normal- we all do it, even those who won’t admit it. Repeat #6 as often as you need to get a grip on the fear that’s around you, and let your quiet logic that’s probably hiding out in the back part of your mind somewhere override those emotions again and again, as many times as it takes. Rational thought is not easy during the storm, but it will help you come through the storm more quickly and takes away a lot of the “fight” in a storm, making any damage done to you significantly less devastating and traumatic. You may still come out hurt but often logic can lessen the amount of hurt you will endure. Also note- logic and rationale will help you complete #1 so much more effectively. You will be able to use your brain rather than your emotions and begin to understand the lesson and even get to the purpose of the storm much more quickly. Be Still and Let God. This is hard- I can’t lie- being still and letting God fight my fights is difficult for me. Sometimes storms can be caused by people (remember, every storm is different) and as people ourselves we want to get back at the person, people, group, etc who is causing us pain, heartache, a storm. We want revenge, we want them to suffer like we have, we want to ruin their lives and livelihood, you know the basic eye-for-an-eye thing. Do not let yourself go down that road. Not only will you be in a storm then you’ll also be in a battle with another person, one you cannot win. You cannot do both, you simply cannot; you cannot survive and storm and a battle at the exact same time. Being still does not mean standing on the sidelines watching and waiting on God to beat them up for you, he doesn’t work that. Being still means being still in your heart and in your mind, stopping the nonsense thoughts, getting a grip on those emotions, waiting with an open heart, mind, and eyes to see and hear the promises of God, and not acting in anger toward anyone. Waiting is a verb, you don’t just sit at home on your couch by the phone to heaven waiting on God to call you like you’re a mob boss and say “it’s taken care of boss”. You get up and you do your part, your work to get through the storm, and you let him do his. He is a just God, he does not allow anyone to hurt his children without taking action, and trust me here, any action you may try to take in retaliation is nothing compared to the action God will take for you as his child. Your job is to get through the storm with your faith and belief intact, you do that, God will do his part, and you’ll be just fine. Know who you’re fighting. Though it may be Sarah down the street at the HOA who has caused the storm you’re in, it’s really not Sarah. It’s satan, it’s always satan. He is in scripture in Job stalking the world seeing who he can devour, and I’ve learned that if satan can’t have your soul because you’ve given it to Jesus, he will go after you joy, and he can get your joy by causing your problems with other people (that’s just one of his ways, we’ll talk more about the tactics of satan in another post one day). You cannot beat satan yourself, don’t try, but you can use the Word of God against him and you can through fasting and prayer use the power of Jesus’ name to cast him out. This is high-level spirituality here, but anyone has access to this reality. You simply must believe. You don’t have to understand, just trust that satan is the enemy of God and there for the enemy of you as a Child of God. He’s the one fighting you. Every. Single. Time. Bonus 11. Help Someone Else Grow. You were not alone when you went through your storm, you had folks all around you helping you (even if you felt alone), they were praying for you, and I’ll bet that at least one person said “I have been where you are, felt what you felt, and I know how I can help if you want my help.” At least one. And if you were open enough to let them help you their help was like nothing else! They knew exactly what to say or not to say, how to pitch in and how to show up in a way no one else did. Now it’s your turn; time to help someone else who is in a storm. Look around, see who is enduring, who you can help, who you can support, who you can pray for- then go do it! Storms do not last, but they always seem like they will go on forever. You have some measure of control over how long they last, read: not 100%, you cannot say “end today” and it will end, that’s not how it works, but you do play a part in how long the storms will stay. But by doing these eleven things in faith, in trust, in belief that all things-even the storms- work out for your good, you can help the storm to end more quickly, to be more effective in changing your life, and to leave you with a brand new outlook, a deeper than ever faith, and an opportunity to help someone else grow through their storms.