Storms of Life
About the Guest
Dennis and Barbara Rainey tell about recent life "storms" they've experienced, both literal and figurative. They share important lessons they've learned in the midst of storms.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Dennis and Barbara Rainey tell about recent life “storms” they’ve experienced, both literal and figurative.
Storms of Life
Bob: There are times when life is hard; and when life gets hard, marriage gets hard. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: I’ll quote a little girl who was sitting on her grandpa’s lap. She looked at her grandpa and she said, “Grandpa, life is like licking honey off a thorn.”
Barbara: You just tend to think, “Well, it’s not going to be me. It’ll be somebody else. It’s not going to be me,” but there we were. It was the two of us, and we had just gotten that bad news. It was a storm. It just came, flying at us and knocked us flat.
[Song: Let the Wind Blow]
There’s a storm on the horizon,
Oh, let the wind blow.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. When there are storms on the horizon, what can you do to make sure your marriage stands strong? We’ll hear from Dennis and Barbara Rainey about that today.
Let the wind blow.
Upon the solid rock of God I stand,
Oh, let the wind blow.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Thought it was interesting, when we were together about a month ago on the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise—this was our second year to do the cruise. Again, it was sold out this year. We had a thousand couples joining us—had the whole ship to ourselves.
Dennis: It is one of the best things that we do here at FamilyLife. There’s no question about it—the entertainment, the content, the opportunity for engaging with folks in ministry, and finding out how you can plug in, as well as just leaving there with a better relationship with God and your spouse. It really is a home run.
Bob: Here is what I thought was interesting. You think of going off on kind of a cruise vacation with couples—it’s a marriage cruise. You’ve got the whole boat to yourself, and we have devotions each morning. Folks will crowd into the theatre for morning devotions.
You and Barbara spoke one morning; and I thought, “You tackled a subject, in the middle of the cruise, that was kind of a sobering subject.” You think of a cruise—you think, “Well, it’s just going to be fun and lighthearted;” but you guys went deep that morning.
Dennis: We talked about some of the storms in our marriage that have occurred and how a marriage has to be built upon Jesus Christ and obedience to Him. I don’t have a solution for how a marriage can go the distance otherwise.
Bob: The interesting thing to me is how much powerful ministry happens onboard the Love Like You Mean It Cruise. Again, I think a lot of people think, “Well, that would be a fun vacation, we’d get to hear some good messages, and it would be nice;” but we see God at work in the lives of a lot of couples who join us on this cruise.
Dennis: It’s more than a vacation, Bob. Certainly, it is some time away from work, phone calls and e-mail, and all the hassles of bills and everyday life; but it is an intensely spiritual time—a time of equipping, encouraging, putting our arms around people and saying, “You know what? You’re not the only couple who’s faced difficulty in your marriage and in your family. You can do this thing. You can do this thing called marriage and family. God’s Word speaks to how you do it, and we’re going to help you by equipping you with the biblical blueprints to know how to make your marriage go the distance.”
Bob: Because the cruise has sold out each of the last two years and because we are on our way already to starting to sell out the 2013 cruise, Valentine’s week of 2013, I went to our team. I said, “I want to make sure our FamilyLife Today listeners get a chance to sign up and to join us. Is there any kind of incentive we could provide for them to do that?”
The team put together a special offer. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about what’s involved in that special offer. We’ve already got lined up, for the cruise this year, Sara Groves, and Denver & the Mile High Orchestra. Anthony Evans is going to join us. Priscilla Shirer is going to be on the cruise with us. Voddie Baucham is going to be back again. You and I are both going to be there. Barbara is going to be along, as well.
Bob: So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about how you can be a part of the Love Like You Mean It Valentine’s week cruise in 2013. The special offer is good this week and next week only. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about how to join us on the cruise.
We wanted to share with our listeners the Tuesday morning devotional that you and Barbara provided onboard the ship where you shared a little bit about—I hate to use this word—some of the rough seas that a marriage will pass through and how you weather the storms in marriage.
There is thunder in the heavens,
Oh, let the wind blow.
Dennis: The more of life Barbara and I have shared together and the more we experience what God is up to in our lives, the more I believe life is anchored in this illustration that Jesus uses at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 24, “Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and does them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; but it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock.” Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Two houses—similar storms—two outcomes. The difference is in how two people who build a house relate to their God.
We’ve had a few storms in our lives in our almost 40 years of marriage; and specifically, some storms this past year.
Barbara: Back in early April of 2011, I went in for my annual mammogram. As I went in, I remember thinking, “Why am I doing this every year? It just seems so silly,” but I went ahead and went because I had my appointment and everything was all scheduled.
I went ahead and did it. About a week later, Dennis and I were on a trip out-of-state; and my phone rang. I picked up the phone, and it was the radiologist—I think is who reads it—and he gave us the bad news that I had breast cancer. It was just—it was one of those moments when you just—my stomach just went through the floor, and both—I looked at Dennis, and we just—your heart just sinks.
Storms are unexpected. They don’t come with a lot of warning. I had a few days to anticipate that perhaps it could be bad news, but there isn’t any history in our family. You just tend to think, “Well, it’s not going to be me. It’ll be somebody else. It’s not going to be me,” but there we were. It was the two of us, and we had just gotten that bad news. It was a storm. It just came, flying at us and knocked us flat.
For the next few days and weeks, we were trying to figure out, “What do we do?” We were getting information and all of that. About a week or two later, I think it was, we were in a surgeon’s office, talking about all of our different options. He was drawing images on paper and saying, “You can do this, this, or this. If you do this, here are the results. If you do choice two and choice three”—anyway, all of this stuff.
When you’re in the middle of something like that, your head is just spinning, anyway. It is hard to process all the information that is coming at you, and you need to process it; but it’s a part of the storm. The winds were blowing and swirling around us. We got as much information as we could both process and left. As we drove home, it was very, very cloudy. It was very windy; and he was saying, “We need to listen to the radio because this is looking really, really bad.” This was late April, now. We pulled in our driveway, parked the car, and ran in the kitchen. He flipped on the TV to watch the radar.
Dennis: You have to know this about me. I grew up in Southwest Missouri, and I spent a good bit of my childhood in a cellar. (Laughter) I can still remember the musty smell of potatoes and sitting among the green beans in this cellar that was just across the driveway in our next door neighbor’s house. I’m watching the news, and I’m pacing in front of our windows.
We have a big plate glass window that overlooks—we actually look west. The weatherman said on the TV, “There is a storm on the ground”—a tornado on the ground. I plotted the course, and I looked at it. I go, “That’s headed right for us.” Barbara kind of made fun of me—she just kind of made fun of me. She said, “You’re making much ado about nothing.”
Barbara: Yes, I was in the kitchen because by the time all this had happened, it was nearly seven o’clock. We were both starving. My mind, naturally, was thinking about other things; and I’m trying to scrounge up some food. I thought, “He’s just worrying about nothing. I mean, it’s just not going to be that big a deal.”
Dennis: I said, “Well, it may be nothing; but here’s what we’re going to do if that storm ends up coming our way. We’re jumping in Santa’s workshop.” Now, Santa’s workshop is a place we affectionately call this—under the stairs where Barbara would hide all the presents before Christmas. It’s the safest place in the house. We don’t have a basement. In fact, our house kind of sits on a ridge; and it kind of feels like it’s a golf ball on a tee. (Laughter)
I’m watching; and I’m watching this cloud get lower, and lower, and lower because you can see like 15 miles up this lake. You can just see it coming. Finally, I move from in front of the plate glass window, which was really a smart idea, near Santa’s workshop. The trees—and these are massive pines that are this big—they used to be. They were going like this in the wind.
Finally, when one got about at this angle, I grabbed Barbara’s arm and I pulled her in the workshop with me. We slammed the door. We’re in the total dark. There was no sound. They always talk about the sound of a tornado hitting—there was no sound, but we were there in the dark. Couldn’t have been in there for more than 45 seconds—60 seconds—
Barbara: No more.
Dennis: You could tell that it was okay to open the door. We open the door, and two distinct sensations completely washed over me. One—was the house was infused with the smell of freshly-cut pine. (Laughter) It just pushed the smell of pine into our house. In fact, blew dust out of the walls. We went around and cleaned up dust that came out of the walls. The other sensation was looking out our plate glass window—
Barbara: Trying to look out windows.
Dennis: —because there were pine trees laying in front of our window on top of our deck, on top of our roof. Twenty-seven trees were uprooted; and we walk around and all we can go is, “Wow! We’re alive!”
Dennis: There we were as a couple surveying the storm damage from two issues—her breast cancer—or actually our breast cancer and—
Barbara: The tornado.
Dennis: —the tornado that hit our home.
We just want to share with you five take-a-ways, five lessons that we’ve gained from having been through a few storms in our marriage—and I know some of you are in some storms right now because that’s the first lesson that we’ve learned. Scripture forecasts storm warnings for all of us. There are storms on the ground. They are headed toward your marriage, and it’s not a matter of if your home will be hit but when your home will be hit.
In our 40 years—almost 40 years of marriage—both of my parents have died. Barbara nearly died on four different occasions with a rapid heart rate of over 300 beats a minute. We had short paychecks. We had a son who was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy and lost his ability to run—was an athlete. We had a child who was a prodigal for a number of years. You know, storms have taken their toll, and storms have hit our home repeatedly; but I like to think of Jesus and what He said here.
He talks about responding to the storms with faith and obedience. The storms will hit. The question isn’t why the storm has hit. The question is, “How will you respond?”
Barbara: Number two: The storms provide an opportunity to prove your commitment. Storms—the tornado that we went through tested the foundation of our house. It did not fall, and the storms will do the same in your marriage. Storms are there to test the commitment of your marriage, the strength of your faith in the power of God to hold you together. It shows what you’re house was built on.
Dennis: Storms give you an opportunity to give proof of the promise you two made to one another.
Number three: There are two ways to handle storms. You can either handle the storms together as a couple, or you can handle them and suffer separately.
Barbara: The thing about suffering or going through a hard time of any kind, that I think is so important to understand in a marriage, is that we handle these things very differently. I handle it differently because I’m a woman than he does because he’s a man. I also handle it differently because of the way I’m wired psychologically as an individual than the way he handles it and the way he is wired and the way he just handles life.
I think what trips up so many couples is we expect our partner—we expect our spouse to handle it the way we do or, to at a minimum, to understand the way I feel; but that doesn’t happen automatically. It only happens with conversation. There’s a verse in Galatians that talks about bearing one another’s burdens. I think that’s the essence of what it is when you go through storms and trials. I need to listen and to help him bear his burdens and his difficulties, and I need him to do the same for me. Have compassion on one another, bear one another’s burdens, and allow each other freedom to process at your own pace and in your own way.
Dennis: Again, guys, you’ve got to resist the urge to try to fix it. There are going to be some storms that you go through that are not going to be fixable. Cancer is one of them.
Barbara: Number four is that storms result in storm damage. That was really evident with the tornado because we, not only had 27 or more trees laying everywhere, our deck was demolished, and our fence was demolished. Uprooted trees pulled up the sidewalk and pulled up grass and just—I mean it was—the house miraculously was intact, but everything around the house was a disaster.
That damage had to be cleaned up, and it didn’t take—I mean, it wasn’t done overnight. We had a bunch of guys come out on Saturday, after the storm on Monday. For probably about eight hours, we had ten men with chainsaws going. The key to this thing, that we’ve learned, is that there is damage. I think we underestimate the impact of the damage that comes, but the benefit on the other side of working through all of that—we have a lot more sunlight in our yard because we don’t have as many trees!
The point is that we see the light more clearly, and I think in the storm that Dennis and I went through—or are still probably going through, in some ways with my breast cancer, is that we see God more clearly because the storms clear out things that we think are fine. God wants to move things around so that we can see Him more clearly. So, address the damage that comes from the storms in your life.
Dennis: One other thing. Just as we had some guys with chainsaws come and clear out the trees, we also had some friends who came and put their arms around us and processed this, as we went through it. One caution here, as a couple. When you do begin to deal with the damage of the storm, don’t go through it alone. The body of Christ exists to come alongside you—and back to the verse Barbara quoted in Galatians 6—they come alongside you to “bear your burden.”
Number five: Storms are purposeful. Romans 8:28—it’s easy to quote that verse—“All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Do you believe that? It’s hard to believe it in the midst of the storm, but storms can—as Barbara said—increase the sunlight. They can also—storms clean out the dead wood. There can be increased fruit bearing, can deepen friendships; and in the process of storms, I think we can get to know God.
In Job, Chapter 42, it summarizes the end of Job’s life. Basically, he says—and this my paraphrase—he said, “Once I spoke of You and kind of thought of You; but as a result of everything I’ve been through, now, I know You. Now, I experience You.”
The storms that we go through—if you respond according to what Jesus said back in Matthew, Chapter 7, in faith and obedience, will put you in touch with Him, and you’ll learn a side to God where you’ll fall more and more in love with Him. I think one of the purposes of storms in life—as we look back over our lives and there’s a bunch of storms we didn’t list here—storms wean us from this world.
They remind us that this is great here—I mean the Caribbean blue, the beauty of God’s creation, at night the stars without any ambient light of the city around—it’s spectacular, but you and I were just made for here for a moment. He went to prepare a place for us so that we could be there also. Those storms are preparing for us an opportunity to suffer in faith and obedience, follow Jesus Christ, and ultimately, build your house on the rock.
I want Barbara to pray for you, but I just want to read this again because you and I do not know what the next phone call brings. We don’t know what the next doctor’s report will be—perhaps, in the midst of troubling economic times, some challenges financially—but Jesus’ words, a summary of the greatest sermon He ever gave said this:
“Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and does them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came, the winds blew and beat on that house; but it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”
Be a house builder on the rock. Don’t wait for the storm to hit to build your home; build on the rock today, so when the storms hit, they will reveal what kind of foundation you have established.
[Song: Ready for the Storm]
Oh I am ready for the storm
Yes sir ready
I am ready for the storm
Ready for the storm
Bob: [Studio] We have been listening to Dennis and Barbara Rainey sharing about some of the storms in marriage. The good news is, as you were sharing it, we had calm seas and blue skies. We had great weather this year onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. This was just a couple of weeks ago as we were gathered with about a thousand couples who joined us.
The ship was completely full, and I know you talked to a lot of folks that morning who said, “We’ve had some”—
Bob: —“issues of our own that we’ve had to lean on each other and lean on the Lord for.”
Dennis: Yes. After one of the sessions, one couple came up, Brian and Cindy Kelley. They said, “Would you honor our parents?” I said, “Well, what’s up?” They said, “Well, both my wife’s parents and my parents are here on the cruise. They’re both celebrating 50 years of marriage. They both got married on the same day in the same year,
50 years ago.”
Dennis: A lot of people come to the Love Like You Mean It Cruise to celebrate a significant milestone anniversary. For Bob and Geri Kelley from Chapman, Nebraska, and Clarence and Marsha Sorenfeld from Loup City, Nebraska—I don’t know where either one of those communities are—congratulations for 50 years of marriage and for celebrating your anniversary with us on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise.
Bob: I don’t know if there was snow on the ground in Nebraska when the families left to come down and join us—
Dennis: You know there was.
Bob: —in Miami. It was interesting how many folks had come from some pretty cold climates. We had a great week weather-wise, a great line-up of speakers, and some great music. We’re making plans for 2013 already.
You and Barbara are going to be on the cruise. Mary Ann and I are going to be on. Voddie Baucham is going to join us again. Dr. Eric Mason will be with us. We’ve got Sara Groves lined up—Anthony Evans, Priscilla Shirer. Ron Deal is going to be there to do a break-out for blended couples, couples who are in a blended marriage. It’s a great line-up, and it’s a great event.
We’d love to have you be a part the 2013 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise when it sets sail from Miami. We’re going to Key West and Cozumel before we come back home. You can get more information about how you can be a part of the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Just click on the link you see for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
As I mentioned, our team has put together a special offer, for this week and next week, for FamilyLife Today listeners. If you want to take advantage of that special offer—save a little money—go to FamilyLifeToday.com today and get all the information about how you can be a part of the cruise in 2013.
Now, I want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow. We are going to hear what Voddie Baucham had to share Wednesday morning on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. He did devotions for everybody onboard and talked about forgiveness. We’re going to hear his message tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
©Song: Let the Wind Blow
Artist: The Imperials
Album: Let the Wind Blow ℗ 1985, Word, Incorporated
©Song: Ready for the Storm
Artist: Rich Mullins
Album: Songs 2 ℗ 1999 Reunion Records, Inc.
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