storm: what to do while looking for a break in the clouds

 

I’m a curled comma, crouched under the duvet, waiting for the storm to pass. Hoping it will be short-lived—relentless, sharp and heavy as it is. This is no ordinary storm, though it’s physical enough.

It’s a dark cloud covering raining down weariness, weakness, profound fatigue, swirling brain fog and constant pain. Bolts of lightning shoot through muscle and bone like fiery darts, making me horribly aware of my fragile frame and frail humanity, and how it hurts so easily.

Maybe you’ve got some storm clouds hovering over you? They could be physical, financial, emotional or relational. Perhaps you, too, are waiting for the weather of your circumstances to improve and longing for those dark clouds to give way to sunshine again.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining, and that we can learn to dance in the rain. Optimism is a wonderful thing, but there are days and seasons when we lack the wherewithal to stay positive. What then?

We can take comfort from having a God who walks on water, as Master and Lord of any storm we may encounter. He invites us to come, look up and keep our eyes on Him, listen to His voice above the surging din, ignore waves rising and our fear of drowning, and confidently reach out for His hand instead.

Healing air of Home

When dark nights haunt a good morning

let’s dance slow to life’s hot fire and

picture a young, green universe, like velvet

breath-kiss, embracing peace with angel breeze

See how healing air of Home bleeds open

like sacred ocean smile—and here we fly

©joylenton2017

 

Sometimes the storms are literal. Many a dramatic summer drenching from years ago springs to mind, where we had to urgently gather our belongings and hurry off  the beach, as thunder and lightning crashed above our heads and some brave souls stayed in the sea! Though thirsty land and plants welcome each refreshing drop from heaven.

Lively water music

Summer beauty is so black-dress gorgeous

as purple petal rain storm rips through

garden’s elaborate gown like mad language

and lies languid as drooling death—beating

time with lively water music—as sun’s hot

tongue still sits and sings over our skin

©joylenton2017

 

Life’s sudden squalls and storms begin to dissipate as we yield to God’s free-flowing river of grace, His vast ocean of love and continual rivulets of peace. In the surrender of resting prayer we are given means to cope and rise above it all.

And in the remembrance of God’s goodness toward us, we have resources for  the stormy days ahead, while we look for a break in the clouds today.

how to experience joy for those fading days

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When energy flags and health fails or fades, how do we keep joy in our souls? it’s something those of us with chronic illness have to consider, as well as all who are exhausted, stressed and depleted.

I know that having M.E and other health challenges has affected not only my ability to carry out daily tasks but also made me more prone to feeling downcast. Physical depletion can lead to soul weariness too.

Attainment of joy begins with recognising our joy stealers, those things that detract and distract us from God’s best for us. You can probably spot your own if you investigate a bit.

Here are some of mine:

  • times when I neglect to prioritise prayer as much as I need to
  • reading Christian books and blogs more than I read God’s word
  • failing to pace well or take adequate rest periods
  • missing small Sabbath pauses in my day/week where I listen to God
  • forgetting to have one whole day a week devoted to switching off
  • spending too much time on screens and on social media
  • neglecting to make real life relationships a top priority
  • pushing on regardless whenever some energy and strength are present

If I allow these things to drain me, my already severely limited energy levels dip alarmingly. Weakness and weariness invade my mood and attitude, leading to impatience and irritability – it’s not pretty. Maybe you can relate?

As we age, have health problems, extra life challenges and demands, we women, especially, can feel like faded flowers wilting with fatigue – though we often try to battle on regardless, don’t we?

Flowers are beautiful but fragile. They each have their season to shine, days when they delight with sweet fragrance and soft beauty, but all too soon they wilt, dry and die. A stark reminder of our own fragility and mortality, as well as our innate loveliness.

The roses above were photographed in evening light, making them glow and look lively, curled and furled as they may be. Day’s bright rays revealed their ragged state, now they exude an inner zest as they hang on to their life by a slender thread.

They speak to me of the way we begin to droop and stoop low with lengthening years, slump and slide with fatigue,  but are still able to glow with an inner warmth that only time and experience can provide.

We shine still in our softer, radiant way, giving off the sweet fragrance of Christ’s gentle presence within, hints of His grace that grow more perceptible the longer we have known and grown in His love.

“[Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age; they will flourish and be vital and fresh [rich in love and trust and contentment]; They are living memorials to declare the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises]; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” ~ Psalm 92: 14-15 Amplified Bible

We have joy in knowing we never outgrow our purpose and usefulness in God’s Kingdom. We are His beloved  children, growing in grace and joy the more we look to God for help and wisdom.

*to read more about the challenge of understanding and living well with chronic illness by listening to what God is saying to us, do pay a visit to my friend Bettie’s beautiful blog, because this month she is focusing on just that theme. Here’s the intro to her series*

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Welcome to #day17 of #write31days Thank you for joining me as we journey into joy!

Feel free to share what you are learning in the comments below.

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finding deeper joy in Jesus

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Each day leaves markers of mystery, holy echoes of eternity. If we come with open hands, open hearts and receptive minds, we are in a good place to see and sense God’s footprints in the familiar, the way He frames each day with the supernatural.

Days when pain pervades stronger than before, weeks where weeping and weariness are our cloak and covering, we may fail to see God’s presence through the fog of our existence.

Yet it is there, in tiny threads weaving their way through each hour – grace glimmers shining like gold in the midst of life’s detritus.

It takes a willingness to expand our inner vision to heavenly hands holding us close. It takes a determination to want to rise above the dark cloud of our circumstances.

It takes faith and endurance and a deliberate seeking after joy when pain and grief sit heavy as stone. Because we only begin to sense God’s nearness when we take our eyes off the problems and invite Him to reveal Himself to us, then look to Him instead.

It also requires honest confession of our feelings, vulnerability and a deciding not to hide ourselves from Him. And so we let ourselves be held, simply caught in arms of Love. All our deepest needs are met here: at the foot of the cross, by the Father’s side, within the arms of Jesus, where heaven’s unlimited provision is made available to us.

We rest our weariness, surrender our stress, anxiety and fears, allow grace and compassion to enter in, to fill and flood hearts that were previously downcast. Our feelings may take a while to match up with our faith, and that’s okay.

We soon discover joy is wrapped up best in the person of Jesus. He tenderly collects all our tears, bathes our wounds in heavenly Light. God’s radiance sears joy back into sad souls, enlivens tired minds, floods fearful hearts with an anchor of hope.

God awakens us anew to anticipation as He alerts us to His constant outpouring of grace and continual presence. He restores, refreshes and revives our lives. We find praise and gratitude begin to bubble to the surface, flowing from a heart now set on fire by Holy Spirit joy.

And we can rise, go forth into the fray with an extra zest in our steps, with a renewed awareness of God’s constant closeness strengthening us for all that lies ahead, giving a fresh measure of grace for each new day.

May these lyrics (from ‘Just be Held’ by Casting crowns) and listening to the song below help lift and encourage you: “Come to Me, find your rest in the arms of a God who won’t let go.”

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badgeWelcome to #day16 of #write31days of journeying into joy. I so appreciate you being here, friend! 

Together we can support, encourage and pray for one another as we learn how to journey deeper into joy.

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