Building Faith through the Storms of Life

by Jennifer DeFrates

A few years ago, preparations for hip surgery revealed a giant mass in my abdomen. Test after test and specialists all over two states said removing it might kill me, estimating a fifty percent chance of dying during the procedure.  

One night, I remember rocking my then three-year-old daughter to sleep wondering how my death would affect her life and my family. Choking back sobs, I prayed that if my death were necessary in God’s plan for my family, then I would trust Him. But I didn’t want to let go of this life just yet.


Thankfully, the surgeon decided a dangerous surgery wasn’t warranted for a non-cancerous growth. But that was a faith-altering moment in my life.


I had to surrender my plans as a wife and mother to God’s will.


That surrender has been crucial in the barrages of storms since. That first step in faith helped me have peace and trust God during the most difficult times.


My first two hip surgeries were painful failures with lengthy rehabilitations, but just as I was finally back to a normal life, my implant failed. I literally had to go through it all again, including dislocating my hip.


Following the second dislocation, I again spent months in a brace holding my hip in place while the tiny muscles and tendons healed from surgery. It was painful and terrifying. Every strange sensation or movement evoked fear of further damage or another dislocation.


One night, I cumbersomely maneuvered into bed, my hip felt insecure, and despair overtook me. I lay sweating and crying, frustrated beyond measure. “God, why am I going through all this again?!”


Almost instantly I heard, “I’m doing stuff. Be patient.”


And I had peace watching the beauty that God unfolded in my marriage through my suffering and the intimacy my recovery required of us. Some moments were still very difficult, but I could see His hand at work as my husband and I grew closer, breaking down barriers that years of military service had built.


But what about withstanding the storms when God doesn’t offer immediate answers?


We’ve recently faced some major changes in our lives that have been emotional as my husband transitions from active duty soldier to veteran. It’s been a reality check in my faith.


Despite counting down the days until retirement, letting go of his identity as a soldier was harder than he anticipated. And while I believe God has been walking with us in all the changes, He was quiet.


I had one day that my husband’s stress and emotions drove me to my fear place. I didn’t know what was going to happen.


I felt like a piece of seaweed tossed to and fro in stormy seas. I felt panicked, like the disciples in Matthew 8:23-27.


A violent storm arose while they sailed across the Sea of Galilee with Jesus. The disciples were terrified. But Jesus, worn out from teaching, slept deeply. As they panicked, Jesus was silent.


The disciples woke Him terrified that they would die in the storm. Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26 ESV). He immediately rebuked the wind and waves, and the storm ceased.


The disciples were astounded. Who is this that even the wind and waves obey Him?!?


Now this story made me think.


Jesus had been performing miracles daily. He had rebuked demons and had demonstrated supernatural knowledge in many instances.


Jesus was aware the storm was coming. He could have decided to stay on the shore or prevented the storm from happening. He chose to go to sleep and allow the storm to rage. Why?


Because He wanted the disciples to know who He was.


He wanted them to see His power and have faith in Him, faith that would carry them through the challenges and trials that He knew would be part of their lives following the crucifixion and ascension.


But He also wanted to rebuke them.


In one stormy moment, the disciples let fear erase all the testimonies of Christ’s power and provision. They needed this testing to have faith to withstand the coming storms.


Jesus wants the same for us. God sometimes allows the storms in our lives so that we will recognize who He is and what He can do. He wants to build our faith for the trials yet to come.


That day, as I began to let my emotions run rampant, I was reminded that God is good. He has always been good to me. If we are going to face some challenges, then they are a part of His plan for our lives and will be, ultimately, for our good.


I thought about all the times God has provided for us through trying times.


While our circumstances haven’t changed, my approach did. Now, I start with prayer, asking God to give me His perspective and peace.


My job isn’t to stop the storm, but to be obedient in it.


When the storms rage around me, I can remember that just because I can’t see how God is working, doesn’t mean He isn’t present or in control.


I just have to remember who Christ is and have faith.


© Copyright 2018 by Jennifer DeFrates


Jennifer DeFrates is a military spouse, high school teacher turned homeschool mom, and passionate follower of Christ. She writes about the ways following Christ has changed her marriage, parenting, homeschooling, and daily life on her blog Heaven not Harvard (, which is about living with a focus on God's kingdom over this world. Jennifer shares unabashedly the joyful, hard, and tender places of her personal walk with Christ in a way that invites us to be real about where we are as individuals and in community as the body of believers.

You can follow her on:

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This is the second post in our Calming the Storms Within series. If you missed the first post and can relate to having a storm swirl on the inside of you, be sure to check out the Introduction by Katy Kauffman.

Subscribers, comment here.

storms, adversity, faith, trusting God, Calming the Storms Within series, Building Faith through the Storms of Life, Jennifer DeFrates, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Comments (8)

  • anon

    Thank you, Jennifer, for opening your life to us. It is an encouragement to read how your storms have brought unexpected blessings that have strengthened you and your family.

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    Dorcas, I am so glad God continues to use my storms to encourage others! 

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    "I'm doing stuff. Be patient." Oh, Jennifer, those words spoke so clearly to me. I'm Miss Impatience and I've had to learn over and over to wait on God. His timing is not mine. What a beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks so much for sharing your message.

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    I tell this story half the time to remind myself! I want everything now! But am realizing that part of the process is preparation for the answers to prayer and just getting to the goal would miss being actually ready.

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    Hi Jennifer.  I too, like "Be patient, I'm doing stuff,"  because when God speaks, he always speaks our language. Thanks for reminding me that the Lord often reminds us through storms that he is, who he is.  (If that makes sense)
    So keep writing!

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    Becky, thanks for the encouragement! He does speak to me often through verses, but sometimes gets my attention in more current slang. And yes, who God is is always revealed more through the storms isn't it. 

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    Love your story Jennifer and thanks for sharing.  Your words are beautiful and I really liked when you said, "My job isn't to stop the storm, but be obedient in it."  So glad I stopped by this evening, and I agree I've been through storms similar with a broken hip, suspicious spots, grandchild with a disease, infertility, miscarriage and much more - but in every storm I've grown closer and closer.

    Mar 15, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you for the encouragement, Debbie! The storms do draw us closer!

    Mar 15, 2018

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As co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies, Katy is a Bible study author and editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine. Follow Katy's blog to receive posts sharing practical strategies for winning life's spiritual battles. 


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