Hikers know that when a storm hits, you best find a secure place to wait it out: “If the storm is truly awful and you can’t count on getting anymore hiking done, resign yourself to the fact and set your camp up for the evening.”* Bad weather comes with high winds, rain, hail and lightning — all which can make you wish you never went camping in the first place. The worst thing you can do is desperately run into the powerful clutches of nature, hoping to find a ray of sunshine in the chaos. Storms are intense, but they usually don’t last long. Instead of questioning the storm or grieving its presence, make yourself cozy and ride it out with the understanding that storms are a part of life.
The expression “riding out the storm” gives me a better perspective for spiritual storms. Just like physical weather systems, there are also spiritual weather systems (Eph 6.12 NLT). And I’ve noticed that when my eyes are intently on God, He will let me know when the climate is primed for a spiritual storm. In the past when I was under spiritual attack, I would fight it. I’d run wildly around looking for answers. I’d questioned the angry clouds. I’d challenge the pounding hail. I’d shake my fist at lightening. I’d confront the storm, and then drag my weary, battered and confused self back home. If God has given me authority to withstand such attacks, why was I getting pulverized (Luke 10.19 NIV)?
Finally, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to stop fighting the storm and just make camp and wait it out. What a revolutionary thought! God provides us times to learn and grow, but a spiritual storm is not one of those times. During a spiritual storm, we need to dig in our heels, secure our roots in Christ and strengthen our spiritual core. When Jesus was under spiritual attack in the wilderness, He stayed still and brought forth the Word that was stored in His heart. Instead of seeking understanding, I should have stayed still and remembered all that God has already taught me.
I realized that all the Enemy is trying to do during a spiritual attack is to make you move. When the devil attacked Jesus in the wilderness, he tried to make Jesus do something: 1) turn the stones into bread (Matt 4.3), 2) throw Himself off the temple (Matt 4.6) and 3) worship the devil (Matt 4.9). Sometimes the best thing you can do when under spiritual attack is to BE STILL (Psalm 46.10 NLT). So many times I randomly opened my Bible, sought advice from others or even Googled my question into the Internet abyss only to become more confused. I know that these methods have helped me in the past during a season of growth, but they were no help in the face of a storm. Continue faithfully praying and reading your Bible, but stay low and make no move until the wind eases up and the rain stops pouring. You’ll find clarity once the sun comes out again.
The storm is designed to move us into confusion and make us do things we will regret. Our movements will be spurred by fear, doubt, hurt, fatigue, anxiety, confusion and other negative emotions; and the damage caused by our foolish, blind actions will be seen everywhere once the storm breaks. Rather than running wildly about like panicky lunatics, we need to stay still and recall all of God’s promises stored up in our heart. So if all you know is that God sent His only Son so we can have everlasting life (John 3.16)or that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil 4.13), repeat those promises over and over again until the weather clears. And after the storm ends, devour God’s Word for more promises so that when the next storm hits, you’ll be better prepared to take refuge in Him.
As you continue hiking down your life of faith, you will be faced with many fierce storms; but don’t be surprised, they are part of the journey. What was the last spiritual attack you experienced? What helped you through it?
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent. – Psalm 91.9-10 (NIV)
* The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Camping and Hiking by Michael Mouland