7 Truths About the Flip Side of Troubles

11:04 AMHeather

Every now and again, I get so fired up about something that I just want to tell everyone I know.  Like when I read The Help and then became a crusader on a personal mission to convince every single person to read this book, for the love of all good writing and intriguing contemplation. As if I were receiving a commission for every new reader. Or when I see a movie that is just so worth your time and energy--like Mom's Night Out, which is just a fun mom version of the old 80's classic Adventures in Babysitting.

Y'all, I read something this morning that has me so fired up that I'm not even sure I can do it justice.  I'm not even sure I can articulate it with the due honor that it deserves.  Finding the right words feels hard--because nothing feels like I can convey it as well as I'd like. And I sorta feel like Beth Moore when she starts getting wound up while teaching, or like Christine Caine at the IF Gathering last February.

Deep breaths.  Here I go.

Yesterday, I blogged about the storms in life.  

If you read here semi-regularly, then you know this is a recurring theme.  I guess because I've been through a storm or two and I've come out with a deep sensitivity to others in a storm.  I feel that familiar twist in my gut when I get news such as my high school friend who lost her son recently.  Or my former co-worker who is fighting an aggressive cancer, found at the 6 week check-up after her seventh baby was born.

It's just too much.  It brings me back to my own hard moments. And I just want to take it all away.

So today, I read the next part--the passage in Luke 8, just after the description of the the disciples and Jesus on a lake during a storm (verses 22-25).  And yesterday, I said that the disciples were afraid of their impending doom because they forget Who was in their boat.

Let me say it again. 

If you are in the middle of the lake and a squall has come upon you and you feel like you are going to drown...then don't forget Who is in your boat.  

He's the One whose voice even the winds and waves must obey.

And hold onto your seat belts.  Because there is more.

I just finished reading Luke 8:26-39.  And while I've heard these stories since my early days in Sunday School, with the felt board presentations, I never connected the sequence.

Today, I want to encourage you--I want to declare to you--the incredible and powerful truths of what happens on the flip side of troubles.  

Please, before I go on, go read that passage--Luke 8:26-38.  (Bossy bloggy girl here).  It's a fast read.  Go check it out.

Okay.  Now. Did you do it?  

Then, let me declare some mind-blowing truths about the storms in life.

1. They are not the destination, but rather an avenue.  That storm on a lake felt like the end.  It reminds me of a story from my cousin about enduring a sudden storm on Sylvan Lake in Alberta. With her young children in tow. It was frightening.  The boat was stalled out and some sort of peril seemed imminent.  

Like how the loss of a loved one feels like an end of all you've ever known--all that made life worth living.  

The storming lakes feel like the end.

But listen.  They are the avenue to Jesus' plans on the other side. 

Luke 8:26 says that they sailed across that lake to arrive at Gerasenes.  The storm was not the end--it was merely the middle. It was a thoroughfare to something ELSE.

You may not even be able to consider anything else besides your storm.  But, here's what this verse tells us clearly.  Jesus uses our storms to get us to the other side.  And there, we experience a fresh revelation of His power.  We see more clearly who our God is, as we learn to survive the storms and keep pressing to the other side. Even the long suffering Job said, after all of his losses and trials, that he had heard of God before.  But through the storm--in fact, because of the storms he'd survived, he now SAW God.

2. Our storms become a means to the healing and freedom for others.  Yesterday, I saw my sweet friend's Facebook status about how her recent writings the storms she's endured have allowed her to help others in similar storms. This friend has endured such brutal storms that I cannot fathom them.  And as she shares her story with authenticity and transparency, other people see a safe harbor.  And her storms are becoming a means to healing and freedom for others.

That is faith.  

Allowing your own sorrows and struggles to be a launching pad for helping others.  And while it doesn't minimize the pain or make the sorrows "worth it"--it does bring them purpose.

Here is the heading in my Bible for verses 26-39 in Luke 8: The Healing of the Demon-Possessed Man. Verse 26 tells us that the disciples and Jesus got to the other side of the shore, having survived the storm.  And in verse 27, we see that Jesus was met by a demon possessed man from the town.

Had the disciples not gotten in that boat and gone through that storm, going where Jesus led them, then Jesus would not have reached this man in desperate need.

Right now, you might be only focused on survival.

But let me assure you at your darkest moments that Jesus intends to bring healing and freedom and purpose to your storms.  Jesus intends to reveal himself to you in startling revelations that blow your mind and give you hope.  And then to do the same for others, because you went through the storm.  Because you braved the lake. And eventually reached the other side.

3. We see the power of God because of the perspective from the storm.   You want to know the profound power of God?  You want to know that he is God and then to be strengthened and encouraged as never before?  We see the power of God because of the perspective from the storm.

Nothing gives me goosebumps like remembering the funeral for a stillborn baby where the parents chose to sing My Jesus I Love Thee. And the words hit me like a punch in a gut--"if ever I loved Thee, my Jesus tis now."  That's the power of God.  For grieving and shocked parents to declare that they still choose God and they still choose to love him even when their storms are raging.

26 years ago I experienced another example of this truth.  An example with such impact, it is still the knot I tie when I reach the end of my rope.  My dad had cancer when I was 9. It was succesfully removed through surgery.  When I was 17, we were back in the same position.  The cancer was declared operable and recovery felt imminent.  But the liver biopsy was a false negative. So my dad came to in recovery, and my mom braced herself to tell her husband of 25 years that he had 3-6 months to live. She was shocked at his reaction.

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." 

My dad quoted Philippians 1:21.

That's powerful stuff there, folks.  That's the power of God seen because of the perspective of the storm.  That's when it all gets real and boils down to the bare bones and the nitty gritty comes to light.

And God rises to the top.  

The power of God was seen through the perspective of the storm when those disciples reached the shore and a show down for the ages took place.

Jesus versus the demons.  

The demons who had literally laid this man bare and caused him to live in the shadow of death, all alone, in the tombs.  I can't think of anything more desperate.  Even the best attempts of man to restrain the power of those demons--the chains and the guard and the shackles--were no match.

But here it was.

Jesus versus evil.  Versus a circumstance that had stolen this man's life and hope and future.

And do you want to know what happened?

The demons cried out and fell at the feet of Jesus and shouted out in fear and begged and pleaded.  Because even our enemy can't help but see Jesus for who he really is.

The Most High God.

And through the storms, on the flip side, we see that too.  Our vision of his greatness and his power and his sovereignty and his faithfulness and sufficiency come into focus.  On the flip side.

Bloggy friends, we have morphed our God into a safe, tidy and restrained God.

But the storms reveal that He is not safe.  He is powerful and mighty.  Like one of my favorite lines from The Chronicles of Narnia where Mr. Beaver says, "Safe? ...Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

God doesn't always feel safe. Our storms make us question that.  But on the flip side, we can see that he is good.  And he is King.

Just as the demons within this man experienced from the moment Jesus stepped into their presence.

May we remember, in the midst of our storms, that our Jesus is powerful and mighty and the Most High God.  He is victorious and a death threat to all evil.  Nothing--and literally in this case, the demons--can not stand against him.

4. We identify ourselves and our problems through the storms. I am intrigued that Jesus asked the demon possessed man his name.  First of all, this man had been driven into solitary places, as verse 29 says.  Here, Jesus reaches out.  Jesus treats him with kindness and like a human. I wonder if it startled this man, under the layers of the demons?  To be treated with curtesy. As Jesus asks his name.  

Second of all, Jesus didn't ask his name because he didn't know it. The previous chapters in Luke show us how Jesus read the thoughts of the Pharisees and the doubters.  Jesus didn't ask this man his name because he needed to know it.  He asked it because the man needed to say it.  He needed to own it.  He needed to get it out there.  He needed to identify the problem out loud.  He needed to be able to declare what plagued him.  This reminds me of 1 John 1:9 where we are told that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive them.  Look, God knows our sins.  But the power of forgiveness comes when we agree with God on them, naming them and identifying them.  Then the grace can pour in.  And the repentence and freedom can burst forth.

5. We are reminded of God's sovereignty on the flip side of the lake.  We see it and experience it and can surrender to it.  I love Luke 8:31-32.  I love it because it helps me think the truest thoughts about God.  It helps me realize my own tendency to empower my sins and forget the power of God. My own habit of enlarging circumstances over God's reign.  Shrinking God in the process.

These demons begged Jesus not to throw them in the Abyss. They begged him repeatedly.  And then Jesus gave them permission to enter the herd of pigs nearby. 

Here's the truth we learn through the storms.  

Jesus reigns in authority.  We don't always understand it or like it. But it's not that he isn't powerful.  It's that we shrink him as impotent with our doubts and unbelief. 

These demons had NO power over Jesus.  They were at his mercy from the moment they came head to head.  

Our circumstances do not steal God's power.  They don't overwhelm his power.  They may blind us to his power.  They may taunt us that he is powerless.  They may tease us that he isn't good. They may tempt us to doubt him completely or even be angry with him.

But he is still on the throne. In those moments where we surrender to him, humble ourselves before him, we see him move as never before.

6. The same things that seem to threaten us can become the things that save and free us. The lake was the source of the threat for the disciples.  It's where they were in great danger--it's WHY they felt they would drown.

I had never before seen what I saw today.

The demons went into the pigs.  The pigs went into the lake and drowned.

The disciples didn't drown.

The demons did.  The evil did.  The thing that imprisoned and terrified and robbed a man from his life drowned.

In the hands of Jesus, he turns our squalling lakes into avenues of freedom and healing and fresh works and new starts and new things.

And it's so powerful, so awe-some, so unfathomable that it strikes holy fear in those who see it.  The townspeople came and saw for themselves.  Jesus had transformed the naked, lonely and desperate man into a man freed from all oppression.  And it filled the people with awe.  Jesus was revealed as never before.  

Because the threat of the lake for the disciples instead became the end for the threat to the demon possessed man.

And these people were so overcome with the truth of his power and his might that it felt like too much for them.  Just look at verse 37 to see this played out. A proper fear of the Lord filled them.  A reverance. 

Because this is my Jesus.  The one who cures the most hopeless, helpless prisoner of circumstance.

By orchestrating a squall on the lake.  By taking his disciples through rough waters to bring them to a shore where lives were transformed. Where one man was freed from a torment that felt never ending.  And many heard and knew Jesus as never before.

7. Our storms can ultimately result in fresh purposes, missions, and works.  This restored man wanted to cling to Jesus.  In verse 38, he begged to go with Jesus.  But Jesus gave him a new found purpose--a new work to do--in verse 39.  He told him to go be a witness.  To go be a living testimony.  To go spread the word and encourage others with what Jesus had done for him.  To go tell his story.  And in the telling, lives would be touched and transformed. And the domino effect of purposes and good results from even the storms of life would continue.  The ripple effect would go on and on.

I wonder in heaven if we will be able to see the big picture of this? How the disciples endured the storm?  And the man who was one guarded and chained became free to proclaim Jesus' great name? And the townspeople were awed?  And people heard of Jesus? And believed.  And they told others.  And so on and so forth.

I have not been possessed by a legion of demons.  But I have been laid low and laid bare and overcome with grief and despair and depression and hopelessness.  I have been beat down by circumstances.  I have felt as though my future was stolen and I was surely drowning in the storms of life.

But on the flip side.

Let me tell you my story of Jesus at work on the slip side.

Here I am, on the other shore.  I have realized the power of God.  I have seen him in ways I never would have otherwise.  I have seen what felt like the end become only the middle.  I have seen him turn my mess into a message and my test into a testimony.  I have seen what I thought was going to kill me actually become a means to healing and freedom.  I have seen him redeem my hard places and bring purpose to my hard roads.  

I don't know that I would say it was worth it?  At moments, perhaps.  But it's value, I've come to see, is far beyond my temporal perspective.  Because for all the ways I've seen these storms in the light of the flip side, I know there's a million more things I cannot see.  This side of heaven.

Let me tell you something--there in your storm.

Remember Who's in the boat with you. 

And consider all that might await on the other shore.

You won't drown.  But your pains and problems will.  Jesus reigns. His power is real--to bring you through the storm to the other side. To do new things and amazing things on the flip side.  Both here on earth and beyond. Because earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal.

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