This last week, I learned the difference between cattle and bison.
Cattle run away from storms. Bison turn and face them. Whereas most other animals run away from inclement weather, bison walk toward it. Some experts hypothesize that it is because they innately know that by walking toward the storm, they will get through it faster. If they try to run away from the storm, they will have to suffer through it longer.
Due to this unique characteristic, in some Native American languages, the name for bison is “Faces the Storm.”
As human beings, we tend to be more like cattle than bison. When the storms of life come, we do everything we can to avoid them. Human nature is averse to pain. And, honestly, that is not a bad instinct. God doesn’t want us seeking out problems. He doesn’t want us causing storms in our lives or the lives of others. The avoidance of pain is a healthy instinct.
Yet, many pains and problems in our lives are unavoidable, and when we try to run away from them, it simply causes the suffering to last longer. When we run away to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or sex to numb the pain and avoid the storms of our lives, it only makes everything worse. When we live in denial or avoid difficult conversations, it only prolongs the problem.
Generally speaking, the best way to deal with the storms of life is to face them head on. But that’s hard. It hurts. It’s scary.
Bison are built for facing the storm. They have big, furry faces to protect them from the wind. They have strong shoulders and backs to help them to keep pushing forward.
Most of us aren’t built like bison.
On our own, we struggle. On our own, we falter and fall. On our own, we cannot stand in the storm.
Thankfully, we are not on our own.
When the Children of Israel faced overwhelming odds against massive armies, God told them, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified and do not be overwhelmed, because the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). God promises to give you the words to say (Luke 21:15). He promises to give you the strength to stand (Isaiah 40:29-31). He promises to make the storms of your life work out for your eternal good (Romans 8:28).
You can face any and every storm of life with the help that God gives. Through his Word and promises, he will give you the strength to face them head on (Philippians 4:13).
So be a bison.
Take a deep breath and admit that bad thing you did. Go home and work on your marriage. Have that difficult conversation with your boss or spouse. Fight against your addiction. Go to the doctor.
Face your anxiety or depression by seeking the help God gives through your pastor and health care professionals.
God is with you. He will be your strength. With his help, you can face the storm.