In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most.

Today's lesson from the Psalms comes from the Ps. 104:

"Let all that I am praise the Lord. 
   Lord my God, how great you are!"
(Ps. 104:1-2a NLT)

Storms.

I don't like them. The crashing, violent waves can capsize even the largest ships. The howling wind can blow the roofs off houses, smash out windows, even lift vehicles and send them crashing back to the ground. The driving rains flood the grounds--and often my basement as well! The thick fog is blinding. The pounding hail causes damage to everything it touches. The heavy snows make the roads and walkways treacherous...Is it for naught that I prefer the warm summer sunshine?

I don't like the storms of life very much either. The crashing, violent waves of circumstances, the howling winds of change, the driving rains of loss, the pounding hail of life-threatening and life-changing illness, the heavy snows of trouble, the thick fogs that prevent us from being able to see the way out...Is it for naught that I prefer the hill-top experiences? Those rare but glorious trouble-free times?

As my family and I finally begin to emerge from a 5-year-long set of tumultuous circumstances, I can't keep my feet from dancing and my mouth from singing forth praise. Sunshine at last!

But my praise is so imperfect and undeserving of the King of Kings, the One who has finally rescued us from our circumstances. "Lord, I want to praise Your name," I prayed, "but I don't know how. Give me fitting words of praise!"

Ps. 104 was immediately impressed upon my mind, and I eagerly leafed through my Bible to read the first few verses:

"Let all that I am praise the Lord.
   O Lord my God, how great you are!
You are robed with honor and majesty.
   You are dressed in a robe of light."
(vs. 1-2a NLT)

"Oh God," I breathed. "This is perfect! You are so great! You are robed with honor and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light that illuminates my darkest path. You are..."

But in my prayer I had reached the end of the verses that I had read, so my eyes again dropped to the page:

"You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens..."
(vs. 2b NLT).

Wait. "Starry curtain" means dark times. And dark times are scary times, times just like the ones we've been going through. What is the idea of God stretching the stormy times across the heavens doing in a Psalm of praise?

My eyes returned to the page and I read on:

"you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
   You make the clouds your chariot;"
(vs 3a NLT).

Uh...So the storms of life are the "rafters" of God's home? They make up His "chariot"?

Really?

Surely this doesn't mean...

I dropped my eyes back to the page. I was sure the Psalm would turn things around at this point, but it was not to be:

"...you ride upon the wings of the wind.
   The winds are your messengers;
   flames of fire are your servants."
(vs. 3b-4 NLT).

That's when Truth began to speak to my heart. It is when the winds of strife blow that God shows up. He rides upon those winds. In fact, those winds of trouble are His "messengers", and the heat and flames of our fiery times are His "servants"!

We know that God doesn't keep us from troubled times, for He has said, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b NLT). Ps. 104:3-4, however, suggests that He actually uses our trouble to move on our behalf!

But this isn't a new Biblical concept, is it? The Apostle Paul eludes to something similar: "I will boast only about my weaknesses...to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:5, 8-10 NLT).

So in "riding" on our troubled times, God uses them as His "messengers", His "servants", for it is in our weakness that God can really shine through!

As this realization hit home, my mind began to review the many blessings God had poured out upon us in the past five years, and I couldn't stop myself from continuing my prayer of praise: "Lord, You allowed those troubled times because they became Your chariots, Your messengers and Your servants! We found You IN the storm, and I praise Your name for the many times when Your strength has been perfected in our weaknesses. Keep up Your good work in us, Lord!"

Whatever you are in the midst of at this time, remember:

"You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens,
   you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot;
   you ride upon the wings of the wind.
The winds are your messengers;
   flames of fire are your servants."
(Ps. 104:2b-4 NLT).

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Lessons From the Psalms" mini-series, please click here.)