I discovered a fun fact recently about the difference between cows and bison and their instincts when it comes to storms. Cows possess a keen sense of awareness and can often perceive when a storm is imminent. They become restless, discerning the subtle shifts in atmospheric pressure, humidity, and other environmental cues.
Ever had that experience? The atmosphere shifts, the environment is disrupted, the temperature of a situation rises. . .
In their pursuit of safety, cows attempt to flee from the storm, hoping to find shelter elsewhere. However, as you can imagine, cows aren't exactly the fastest of creatures and their inherent lack of speed prevents them from escaping in time. As a result, they experience the storm for far longer than necessary, running with the storm, encountering rain, wind, and lightning until it eventually passes. In trying to escape the storm, they end up enduring it for far longer than if they'd just done nothing.
On the other hand, bison exhibit quite a different response to storms. Instead of running away, they charge headlong into them, seemingly defying common sense. However, these animals understand that the faster they move through the storm, the sooner they will emerge on the other side. By bravely facing the storm, they effectively reduce their exposure to the elements and minimise the time spent enduring the harsh and challenging conditions.
I don't know about you, but when the storms of life come my way, my natural tendency isn't one of running towards the tempest!
We all face challenges, suffering, and adversity at various points in our journey (John 16:33), no one is exempt from facing storms in life. Often, our natural inclination is to run away, seeking comfort and safety, hoping to find respite from the storm. Hoping that we can outrun or avoid the inevitable heartache or pain. However, like cows, our attempts to escape are often futile, and we end up enduring the storm for longer than necessary all the while striving and stressing in the midst of it trying to get out.
This is something the disciples knew all about:
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Mark 4:35-38 (NIV).
"A furious squall" was no drizzle of rain, this was violent, wild, powerful, and overwhelming. The disciples were understandably afraid. And yet the thing they had forgotten was that they weren't alone.
We, too, can easily forget that while it may seem daunting to run towards the storms of life and face them head-on, we also are not alone in our journey. We can be tempted to look at a storm and see it as our demise, asking God if He cares that the storm is coming our way or upon us.
But if that's happening, don't be a cow!
Just as the bison charge into the storm with instinctual knowledge they'll get through it, we have the assurance that we, too, will come through the other side our of storms because we are accompanied by One who promises to never leave or forsake us, even in the darkest valley, or wildest storm. Sleeping in the back of the boat, in the middle of the storm, unhurried, unworried, and fully at peace, is Jesus (v.38). Our Jesus who speaks to the storm to make it "completely calm" (v.39b).
Jesus is with us in our storms. There is no squall, no distance, no darkness, too great for His presence to be able to shift the atmosphere. No matter the storm, "even there [His] hand will guide [us, His] right hand will hold [us] fast" (Psalm 139:10). Being in the squall with Jesus is always safer than running from it because nothing can separate us from the One who has the power to still storms with just a word.
I wonder how we would feel if we took a lesson from the bison and began to face our trials head-on?
Jesus wants nothing more than for us to have confidence in who we are in Him. I can imagine the heartache in Him asking the disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (v.40b).
Did you forget who I am? (Jeremiah 2:32)
Yes, my child, you'll face trouble, but take heart, I have overcome. (John 16:33)
Nothing is impossible for me. (Mark 10:27)
I'm not going anywhere, I'm right here with you, always. (Matthew 28:20)
Don't be afraid, just believe! (Mark 5:36)
Rather than avoiding or denying challenges, what would it mean for us to confront them with courage and faith knowing that while we may not physically see Jesus beside us, we have His very Spirit inside us? (John 16:7). By moving forward in faith perhaps we might navigate through storms more swiftly, emerging on the other side where peace and healing await us.
Let's not be people who run from suffering, seeking temporary respite, only to endure the storm for longer than necessary. Instead, let's embrace our storms, confident in the knowledge that we are not alone, Jesus, the One who has overcome the troubles of this world is with us. And with His power and authority bestowed upon us, we can face adversity head-on, suited up with His armour, trusting Him that as we move forwards, He will lead to us to grow stronger, emerge wiser, and discover His peace through, and on the other side of the storm.
Friends, I'm praying forthose of you who are in the midst of stormy weather right now.
Don't try and outrun it.
Lean in. Lean into the Father, lean into the lesson of the storm. You're not alone.
You will make it out the other side.