How to Prepare for the Storms of Life

For those of you who don’t know my story, the abbreviated version is this. My mother was killed when I was 17 months old. My father was devastated and turned to alcohol and women to cope. He married a total of 6 times, not counting all the girlfriends. My home became very unsafe. I endured 10 years of sexual assault, physical abuse, and malnourishment during those years. At 19, I found myself pregnant with my second child, living on food stamps & welfare in the projects in an extremely abusive relationship. I have no money, no friends, and no hope. The end of that chapter is that God redeemed me. He restored all the locusts had eaten. I got married; my husband adopted my children. I became successful in Corporate America, but I never forgot the moments of huddling on a bathroom floor in government housing, contemplating taking my own life, or the years of parenting alone. I learned to endure the storm. And as I think about the many storms of my life, there are key things that the Lord has taught me that I believe will help you today. 

Let’s begin with Matthew 7:24-29. 

“‘Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.’ When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.” 

In this passage, Jesus is closing out His Sermon on the Mount. I love that He closes it by preparing the crowd for the challenge. He is giving a secret to the Kingdom. If you obey me, you will endure; you will be protected; you will be blessed.  

  1. Acknowledge that storms will come // Denial is not an effective storm technique. We are all going to face storms. Storms come from places we expect and places we don’t. Sometimes, they hit is from all levels at once – rain from above, floods from beneath, and winds from left and right. Do not be shocked when storms come. Jesus taught us in John 16:33 that “in this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Suffering is mentioned in the Bible approximately 180 times. This indicates to me that this is going to be a common subject in the Christian experience. My question to you is this – What is your knee-jerk reaction to storms? Does your response look different than the world’s?  Here is what the Word tells us:  

    Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1: 2-4) 

    “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill out hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3-5)

    In 2016, my husband and I lost everything we owned in the floods that impacted 150,000 lives in Baton Rouge. Now, understand that I had already been homeless. I had already been broke. I had already endured a lifetime of pain. And I cried out to the Lord. I’m in ministry. I’ve been faithful. I tithe. I attend church. I’ve already learned the hard lessons. And the Lord clearly said, “The same God who rescued you from that thing 20 years ago, is the same God who will rescue you again.”

    We must get good at enduring the storms of life. Nothing develops your faith like storms & hardship. Our physical bodies are strengthened when we exercise, e.g. sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups. Likewise, our spiritual bodies are strengthened when we stretch & exercise our faith muscle. The problem is that, too often, we are much better at exercising our complaining muscle, our fear muscle, our bitter muscle, and our whining muscles. We must learn to praise in the pit. We cannot cower in a corner of the boat, when a storm comes. That looks no different than the world. We must learn to stand on the Word of the Lord, when nothing around us says victory.  We look to the storm and we say, “Be still.” We look at the mountain, and we say, “Move.” We look at an empty checking account, and we say, “My Father owns cattle on a thousand hills. He will supply all my needs.” We look at cancer, and we say, “Go.” We look at Satan and we say, “Flee in the name of Jesus!”   

  2. Have a strategy // You cannot control the type of storms you endure or their timing, but you can have a strategy. Different storms require different strategies. Storms can look like many things – cancer, auto-immune diseases, limited mobility, pain in the body, abuse, financial woes, fear, depression, anxiety, loneliness, or others.   

  3. Repent, when necessary // To be clear, storms come for many reasons, including testing. We see this with Job’s life, so I am not suggesting that every storm we face is due to disobedience or is somehow a punishment or a result of sin. But I do think it is critical that we address the sin in our lives. It can create a wind storm that destroys everything in its path. Storms sometimes come or stay longer than necessary, when there is unconfessed sin. We have no authority, when we are walking in disobedience. You cannot cast down anything, when you have provided an open invitation to the enemy to wreak havoc in your boat. Get the enemy out of your camp. There is too much at stake to chase gossip or porn or sexual immorality or offense. Our nation is under attack. Our babies are dying. Our marriages are failing. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, so confess, ask forgiveness, turn from it, and move on. Too much is at stake.   

  4. Stand on what you know despite how you feel // Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:20-24) There is no way that Abraham didn’t feel disappointed or defeated or discouraged during his wait. His promise, most certainly, seemed forgotten on that 99th year, but the Scripture tells us that Abraham’s faith never wavered. Are you standing on what you feel or what you know? 

  5. Practice your spiritual disciplines // What does our instruction on spiritual warfare tell us in Ephesians 6:10? “We must put on the full armor of God, so that we may be able to stand firm against the strategies of the devil.” We must be clear that the enemy is coming to the fight with a strategy. The passage goes on to tell us in verses 13-17 to put the belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. These are our spiritual disciplines. We cannot put truth, when we don’t know truth. The passage teaches us that we are wrestling against evil principalities in the unseen world. There is much going on in your storm. You must be ready. Church attendance, Bible study attendance, reading the Word, praise & worship, and prayer are all strategies to help us stand firm against the enemy.  

  6. Know your authority // The type of storm doesn’t matter, when the foundation is strong. You can rebuild, if you have a strong foundation. The Word tells us in Ephesians 6:18, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Do demons tremble, when you walk by? Do you move in authority, operating in the power that has been granted to you as a daughter of the most high God? When you roll on the scene, does the atmosphere shift? Does power rise up inside you? Do you use your spiritual gifts to edify the body and cast down the plans of the enemy? Most of us don’t operate in our authority, because we don’t understand it.  

Let me close with this. Hebrews 12:26-28 says, When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: ‘Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’ This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”  

It will ALL FALL. The temporary things of which we’ve placed our faith will fall. It will shake. Get ready. We cannot be stunned by the shaking.   

  • The faith of our jobs.  

  • The faith of our money.  

  • The faith of our government.  

  • The faith of relationships that God never intended for us to be in, whether friendship or romantic.  

  • The faith of status. 

  • The faith of position.  

  • The faith of physical beauty.   

  • The faith of microphones and titles.  

It will ALL be shaken. Only one thing remains. The faith we stand on is in the immovable, unshakable God. Faith can’t be based on our circumstances or our feelings. Our God will never disappoint us, forsake, or leave us.  It is time for this generation of believers to take the reins and lead our children, our families, our friends, our coworkers, and our communities well.    

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others. 

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