I promise I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. I’m not trying to scare you into listening to me. I’m actually not wanting you to be scared at all. In fact, my prayer for you, my prayer for all of us, is to go through this earthly journey without a scare, without a hurt, and without suffering through even a mild storm. What my life experience tells me, and what the bible affirms, is this truth; we all go through storms. None of us will escape the bashing and crashing of the waves of a tempest. Some of us will endure long and excruciating squalls, while others will seemingly cruise through with only a mild gale or two. Either way, we all will deal with storms in our families.
So the question isn’t, “Will my family deal with a storm?” No, the question is, “When will my family have to deal with a storm?” and, “How big will our storm be?” Again, this isn’t about scaring you, but rather about sharing some principles to help you be prepared when your storm hits. I’m sure many, even most of you, have already dealt with storms. So some of these will be principles you’ve already used and experienced; consider this a review. I’m hoping many of you will find something that can be of use the next time you experience a storm.
Here are 5 keys to surviving a family storm:
- Prayer – ok, I admit, not exactly an epiphany or an “aha” moment for any of you. All the same, I wouldn’t feel right not putting this at the top of the list. Can I add the suggestion to get as many people praying as you can? I can hear what you’re thinking right now, “So David you think God is more likely to answer our prayers if 1,000 people are praying as opposed to just 10?” The answer is no, I don’t believe that. In fact I believe God is God and generally speaking will do what God does regardless of our prayers. Which begs the question, so why then should we pray. My simple answer is obedience: God tells us to pray, multiple times (1Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6-7). But the bible does give many examples of God hearing our prayers and answering them (Gen 25:21, Isaiah 38;4-5). The real question is, does it matter if we pray? This is the point of this first key to navigating a storm. Without question it matters and makes a difference if we pray. Some of you know our family has been going through the hardest storm we’ve ever faced (Our Storm). I can’t tell you exactly how prayer worked because so much of it is God’s domain. What I can tell you is prayer, and specifically the fact that we had wonderful people from all over the world praying, got us through the darkest parts of our crisis. Lastly, I believe the most important result of prayer, besides communicating with our Heavenly Father, is getting a right perspective between us and God. When we pray… when others pray… we acknowledge there is someone else in charge. In essence, we are saying, there is a God and it’s not me. That is the first step in surviving a storm.
- Communication – it is really important to come up with a plan for communication. Especially if you follow number one above and ask a lot of people to pray. The only way to keep your prayer warriors involved is to keep them updated. But figuring out how you’re going to communicate the storm to family and others can either relieve stress or create more. In our situation, my daughter and her husband were in the eye of the storm because it involved their sick son. The picture is my daughter with her son as he is slowly coming out of a medically induced coma after 20+ days. It was important to create ways to adequately communicate information, while honoring those in the middle of the crisis. Of course, if you happened to be part of #TeamJustus, you know most of the communication with our storm came through me. I tried to honor Alyse and Jason (my daughter and son-in-law) and they always had a say in what was communicated. This kept from having hurt feelings over who was privy to what information.
- Take care of your marriage – If you are married and you are actively in the middle of the storm (ie. a sick child) then make taking care of your marriage (and your children) a priority. As you give attention to the crisis, which you should, it’s easy to completely neglect all the other relationships in your life. I was grateful for my wife (Grammy) who could easily have poured 100% into our grandson and forgotten the rest of us. She was very intentional about caring for our marriage and more importantly encouraged our daughter to do the same with her husband. Keeping this and other relationships strong will make a difference especially when things are darkest or important decisions have to be made.
- Community – this one is connected to #1. Asking others to pray will begin to rally a community around you. Whenever we’ve gone through storms, my initial reaction has been to circle the wagons and get through this as a family. If I’m honest, a lot of that was motivated by pride. What I’ve found is, when I let my guard (pride) down, our church community, our extended family community and our friend community becomes a rock to lean on.
- Call in your trusted advisors – which of course assumes you have trusted advisors (which is the topic for another article). Proverbs 15:22 reminds us the importance of many counselors. I’ve always said in the middle of a crisis, I can’t trust myself. So I turn to those in my life, I’ve determined ahead of time, I trust. They help me when I have important decisions to make, not by making them for me, but by keeping me from going off track out of the emotion of the moment. These are the people I call first when I find myself in a storm.
Obviously there is more to do in a storm. If you will apply these five principles, the storm won’t go away, but they will allow you to get through and more importantly not miss all that God has for you. Which brings me to my parting thought. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God works all things (even our storms) for good in our life if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. These five principles will ensure you experience that promise. You will still go through the storm, but God will work it for good in your life!