Why God Sends Us Storms: In the Wake of Irma
Why God Sends Us Storms
In the Wake of Irma
Hurricane Irma was the largest storm in recorded US history. So naturally, the windy lady captured our undivided attention as she strolled westward along the Caribbean corridor and then, after a sharp right turn, traveled up the spine of Florida. Like most others, we were motivated by fear, a healthy fear of damage to our persons and property, to prepare for Irma. We knew what was at stake. We knew what we would lose if we were unprepared for the storm.
Motivated by a healthy fear, we took practical steps; we boarded up all our windows, stored outdoor objects inside so they would not become projectiles. We stocked up on extra food, water, batteries, fuel, and candles. It took extra effort to be prepared. But the fear of losing homes and property motivated us. We knew what was at stake. We knew what we would lose if we were unprepared. It paid to be prepared. If the storm punched us without prior preparation, we would have suffered loss.
Unprepared for the Storms of Life
We all face storms of another nature for which men and women are unprepared. It might be loss of health or a physical problem, or loss of employment, a rebellious or reckless son or daughter, a proud and easily-angered spouse, financial reversal, disappointments with family, friends, or relationships, an engagement terminated, a closed door to a desired school or career.
But most are unprepared for such storms. They arrived unexpectedly. In the wake of being unprepared for such storms, we can suffer gradual loss of hope, loss of confidence, and replaced with anxiety, the loss of peace and harmony in relationships, replaced with conflict and strife, the evaporation of inner joy, and even the loss of faith.
Perhaps you are one of those still suffering loss. You were unprepared for the storm, perhaps unwittingly. The storm hit without warning and you’ve never recovered. You wonder if you’ll ever recover. Is there any hope? Where can we find motivation to make necessary changes?
Two Types of Storms
After examining the scope of storms in the Scriptures, it seems to me that all believers will face one of two types of storms in life. The Master of wind and waves sends either storms of perfection (ex., Mark 4:35-41) or storms of correction (ex., Jonah).
Storms of Perfection
Storms of perfection are sent to test and strengthen our faith in the words of Jesus. For example, the disciples were simply following Jesus’ orders when they got into the boat and found themselves in the middle of a dark, violent tempest. Jesus said, “Let’s go” and they went (Mark 4:35). They were obeying Jesus.
Jesus had taught them about the impact of believing His word in Mark 4:1-34 throughout the day and now He was examining the reality of their faith at night (Mark 4:35-41). It was exam time. And this test would occur in night school. Jesus was perfecting their weak faith. Alas, they flunked the test.
After waking up Jesus in the violent storm and suggesting that He didn’t care that they were about to perish, Jesus replied,
“Why are you so cowardly? Do you still have no faith?”
But, despite flunking the faith-test, the disciples did ask the right question (Mark 4:41). “Who, then, is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!”
They failed the faith test, but their failure was not final. Jesus did not expel them from His school. Your failure in the storm is not final either. Jesus remains unflinchingly loyal to His own, even to those who flunk His tests. He continued to challenge their faith. They continued to fail but He remained loyal to them as a Master Discipler. Jesus will also remain unflinchingly loyal to you. We all fail. None of us are straight “A” students in the school of faith. But Jesus remains faithful, persistently perfecting our faith in Him.
Storms of Correction
Jesus also sends us into storms of correction. The story of Jonah is a case in point. Jonah stopped listening to God’s Word and stepped out of His will (Jonah 1:1). He opted for a cruise rather than share God’s Word with an early version of ISIS.
So, the LORD sent a violent storm –a storm of correction--to teach him what it was like to drown in a sea of sin. Jonah was forced to take a deep, three day course in the university of whales. God then gave him a fresh start. Jonah took it. So, the storm was corrective in nature and redemptive in design.
Both types of storms hit families, marriages, churches, parents, children, relationships, and individuals. God does not consult us first, either. And it is not rare for one family member to encounter one type of storm (correction) while the another experiences the second type of storm (perfection). The storms God sends can be national or individual.
It Pays to be Prepared
Just as we were motivated by a healthy fear and took practical steps to prepare for Hurricane Irma--because we knew what was at stake--there are steps we must take to adequately prepare for these two types of storms. In both types of storms, the problem was the failure to believe the word of the Lord and put it into practice.
What is Jesus saying to you personally? What dimension of your life needs correcting or perfecting? Are you motivated to listen to put His word into practice? Do you know what you will lose if you procrastinate and are not motivated to make changes? Do you realize what is at stake?
The apostle Paul used a healthy fear to urge the Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, that is to say, to take all the necessary steps involved (in this case, humbling themselves) in God’s plan for them (Philippians 2:12).
If you were not motivated in the past and refused to prepare before the storms hit, you suffered loss. But the future can be different. Your past loss doesn’t have to be the final chapter. What should you do to recover?
We can recover by listening afresh to the voice of Jesus, trusting Him, and putting His Word—the specific word that focuses on our sin--into practice. Jonah listened. You can too. Jesus gives fresh starts. So, it pays to be motivated and get prepared. It pays to trust and obey Jesus’ word. Ask Jonah or Jesus’ disciples.
When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, his covenant, his blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives away
he then is all my hope and stay.