June 27, 2014

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Stand beside our heavenly Father during life’s storms

Sean GallagherSpring and summer in Indiana is often a time when severe storms cross our state.

If you’ve grown up in the Hoosier state, you usually gain memories early on of seeing the sky darken, driving rain coming down, trees blowing in the wind and tornado sirens crying their warning.

That was certainly the case for me as I grew up in Shelbyville in the 1970s and 1980s. When I was a boy, thunderstorms scared me a good bit.

My parents reasoned with me, trying to persuade me that I was safe from the storm in the house. But those words didn’t relieve my fears.

What finally swept them away were not words, but action.

One evening, a storm filled with thunder and lightning blew through. Seeing me filled with fear, my dad took me by the hand across the covered part of our back porch and into our garage.

He then opened the large garage door and had me stand beside him at the edge of the garage. I could feel the swift winds of the storm and the rain bouncing off of our cement driveway onto my legs.

Given how I had reacted to storms in the past, I should have run away and cowered under my bed.

But I stayed right there. Knowing that my dad was there beside me convinced me that nothing bad was going to happen to me despite the violence of the storm.

The courage that my dad instilled in me that day stuck. A few years later, I started working as a newspaper carrier. And even though I would see black storm clouds in the sky, I wasn’t afraid to ride my bike quickly on my route, often completing it just before the skies let loose.

Looking back when I stood at the edge of our garage next to my dad during a storm, I realize that he taught me a deeper lesson, one that I want to pass on to our five sons.

No matter what kind of storm lurks on our horizon during life, our heavenly Father will always be there at our side to protect us and fill us with a stouthearted courage born from his undying love for us.

Because he is steadfast in his faithfulness to us, we can be confident that he’ll never leave us—even when we face problems that we could have never imagined in the past.

This does not mean that life’s tempests will not harm us. That would be unrealistic and not the kind of faith that our heavenly Father is calling us to place in him.

There will inevitably be times when we or our friends or loved ones are hurt for what seems to be no good reason. We might even experience grave threats to our own lives or witness the untimely death of someone close to our heart.

In the midst of such swirling winds that life can hurl at us, it can be hard to believe that our heavenly Father still stands beside us.

Keeping a firm hold on our faith in him might give us little comfort while being battered by such a storm.

But like St. Peter, who walked on a stormy sea as long as he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, we can be confident that our Lord will keep us on course to our heavenly home if, with the help of his grace, we don’t abandon our faith in him.

As soon as Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm that raged around him, he began to sink. But it wasn’t the wind or the waves that pushed him down so much as it was his fear.

The courage that our heavenly Father wants to pour into our hearts to face life’s storms may not always lead us to calm seas in this life. But it can keep us moving forward toward heaven, firm in the knowledge that our Father is at our side. †

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