What do you think about when a storm comes into your life? When things are dreadful for you, how do you reflect on what’s happening? Where does your mind go? This article deals with those questions.
I suppose most of us are tempted to focus more on the storm that is happening to us than the God of the storm. Let’s face it; the storm is more real and nearer to us than the Creator of storms. The trouble appears more manageable than the God of the universe.
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I recently counseled a lady in a bad marriage. She has been in a bad marriage for nearly three decades. Her thoughts were predominately on how she had messed up and how her husband needed to change. Her way of thinking is normal for people in bad marriages.
Why not hope and pray your marriage partner will change? It is a proper prayer, no doubt. If the other person changes, you will get what you want and be happy. What is missing in this line of reasoning is what the Lord might want for both the husband and wife.
The Lord Of All Storms
While it is wise to make sober assessments of how you may need to change or how your spouse needs to change, the more important thing to think about (and have your mind steadied) is the Lord who is in charge of the storm.
While I affirmed my friend for carefully reviewing her sin and how she needs to change, I appealed to her to think more about her Heavenly Father, the Sovereign Ruler over all storms. It was hard for her to think how God might be in her bad marriage. He seemed to be a distant Influencer at best.
She appeared to believe her decision to marry and all the ensuing trouble that came from that decision was outside of God’s ability to alter. Though she did not say it this way, she did imply that she had made her bed and must now sleep in it. God was a distant bystander, and it was all her fault. This kind of reasoning goes like this,
“Because it was my fault, things will not change unless I figure it out and make the appropriate changes.”
I suggested she re-prioritize who is really in charge of her mess. She may have made mistakes, but God is in charge. His grace always trumps our messes. But He is not just in our messes; He is super-attentive to our messes. He cares too much for us not to be in our messes, no matter how harsh our messes may be and no matter who appears to be the cause of our problems.
Why God Hurls a Storm
It is important that your thoughts about your troubles are about God and what He wants to teach you through the troubles. There are many illustrations of this in the Word of God. Jonah is one such instance.
God had called Jonah to do a job, but Jonah did not want to do the job. So God hurled a great storm into Jonah’s life. He hurled this storm because He loved Jonah and did not want him to continue thinking and living as he had.
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. – Jonah 1:4
You know the story. You know why God hurled the storm at Jonah. The word “hurled” pictures a man throwing a spear at a target. God was hurling a storm at a target. In this case, the target was Jonah. He did this to get his attention. Here is the sequence for you:
- God launches a storm into your life.
- God wants to get your attention.
Your first thought must not be to run like Jonah but to discern what the Father has for you. Perhaps you would say God sent the storm because Jonah was sinning. That would be correct, but you cannot say God only sends storms to those who are actively disobeying Him. He may love a person who is sinning enough to throw a storm at him, the way He loved Jonah.
But we know the storm He sent into Job’s life was not because Job was sinning (Job 1:1). We also know the storm He sent into Joseph’s life was not because Joseph was sinning (Genesis 37-50). And we certainly know the Savior was not sinning when He went through His storm. It can be dangerous to attach all storms to a person’s sin, as though you will get a storm only when you sin. That is at the heart of legalism:
“My performance determines how God will interact with me. If I’m good, God will give me favor. If I’m bad, God will hurl a storm at me.”
Not only is this poor theology, but it makes a sinful judgment about the gospel. It says your righteousness matters to God and it lessens His judgment on Christ. Legalism is dangerous ground.
You have no righteousness apart from that which Christ gave to you. It is His righteousness, not yours. If God dealt with you based on your righteousness, you would get more than a storm. You would get hell.
It could be that God has brought a storm into your life for other purposes. Rather than trying to figure out whether you “deserve” the storm based on your performance, it would be better to ascertain what God wants to teach you.
Work with objective data, not subjective or speculative thoughts that you center on your desires and wishes. Here are a few sure things you know about God. They will serve you when things are going bad:
- He is good.
- He loves you immeasurably.
- His storms are for His glory.
- His storms are for your good.
You can bank on these things. Rather than getting angry at the storm or the person you think is perpetrating the storm, it would be better to huddle up with God and seek to discern why He is loving you this way.
Call to Action
Every storm God has brought into my life has resulted in some change. Once I stopped “running” from whatever way my heart needed change, my usefulness in God’s work increased.
- How about you?
- Are you in a storm?
- What is God teaching you about you?
- What do you need to change?
- Rather than getting angry or fearful at the storm, lean into God. Discern what He is teaching you. Experience His love in your storm.
If you can do this, you will learn what Joseph, Job, Jonah, and Jesus learned–the redemptive value of storms. Who knows; maybe your storm will go away. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure, God will change how you relate to Him, and He will give you strength because of the storm He hurls at you. Paul said it this way:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
When the Storm Hurler hurls the “big one” at you, stop and think deeply about what He is doing to you. His desire is to remove all of you from yourself, so your satiation and reliance are on Him completely. You will know when you have arrived. You will be a grateful person rather than an angry or complaining person.
One of the characteristics of broken people, who are strengthened by God, is their gratitude. Paul did not get a change of circumstance, per his request. He got God instead, which empowered him to function in spite of his troubles. Through his weakness, God’s strength was made perfect.
This post was originally posted on RickThomas.net.