“The Necessity Of Storms”
Almost everyone would rather have sunshine than showers. But just imagine what our world would be like if it never rained again. An example of such a place is in Northern Chile. Franklin Elmer, Jr., described a region between the great Andes mountain range and the Pacific Ocean where rain never falls. He wrote, "Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east; each noon it shines brightly down from overhead; evening brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen raging high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks are observed far out over the sea, the sun continues to shine on this favored and protected strip of land. One would imagine this area to be an earthly paradise; but it is not. Instead, it is a sterile and desolate desert! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there." Elmer then made this application: "Too often we long for total sunshine and joy in life. We have wished to be rid of burdensome responsibilities. But, like this sunny, unfertile part of Chile, life without its burdens and trials would not be creative, productive, or challenging. We need sunshine and showers."
One of the great misconceptions about faith is the fact many have the perception if they are living faithful, right, and holy, they can avoid the trials and storms of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. While I have witnessed openly sinful people endure devastating storms, I have also witnessed some of the most seasoned and consistent lives weather storms of cruel and epic proportion. That is why Jesus stated in Matthew 5:45, “...He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Storms are our common lot in life, and a part of our existence in a fallen and broken world. The difference is how those of faith should respond to them. The great test of our life is whether we will remain true while the storm rages. Corazon Aquino, former President of the Philippines said, “Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things – with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope.” We hold to the hope that storms never last, and ultimately the clouds will empty of their rain. But, we also know the most accomplished captains gain their skills not in the calm but in the storm. There are some storms that cannot be avoided no matter how much we try because God has a purpose in every storm. Consider with me why storms are as needful to our growth as the sunshine.
Storms make our development more confident. We are all familiar the story of how Job lost his family, his riches, and his health in one of the most destructive storms a man could face. However, in Job 38:1, we are told, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind...” One of the secrets to enduring a storm is learning to hear His voice amidst of the thunder, wind, and chaos. As we grow, our ears are trained to hear the sounds and voices that mean the most to us. A covetous man will turn in a crowded airport at the sound of a quarter falling to the floor. A mother will recognize the cry of her baby in a room that has many crying babies. A child learns the distinct cadence of a father’s whistle when they have become separated. Is it any wonder Jesus often said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The truth is, we hear what we want to hear. The saints that are able to maintain peace, joy, and buoyancy in the storm are those whose conscience is attentive to God’s voice through the clamor and noise around them. God’s model has never changed. Faith still “comes by hearing...” A.W. Tozer once wrote, “The principal of His speaking and our hearing is one of the foundational principals of the Christian walk of faith...He speaks so often. Oh, that we would hear Him more.” Our failure to hear God’s voice will inspire the voices of the world to feed our pride and fuel our doubts. A man left to his own thoughts in a storm is the making of a horrible disaster.
Storms make our discernment more clear. In Matthew 14, the disciples find themselves in a storm that threatens their very existence, and the visible presence of Jesus is nowhere to be found. But, in verse 24, we read, “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.” When the night was at its darkest and the storm was at its fiercest, Jesus calmly walks upon the storm. A second secret to enduring a storm is the ability to perceive the Lord’s presence at work in the darkness and amidst the high waves. Here in the south, the springtime brings wondrous beauty and colorful landscapes. But, it also brings thick pollen that fills the air. The temperature change often ushers in sudden and unexpected storms. The blessing of the storm is that it clears the air for us to breathe and to see better. As we pass through the routine of our daily life, our busyness, schedules, and appointments can leave us in a fog to where we lose the conscious awareness of the Lord’s presence. Out of that fog, a storm will gather that shifts our attention and brings His presence into focus. George MacDonald, a nineteenth-century Scottish minister, wrote, "How often do we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And when we learn that the storms of life have not driven us upon the rocks but into the desired haven." Like a child running to its parents after being awakened by a clap of thunder in the night, God’s design in the storm is to always draw us closer to him.
Storms make our devotion more captivating. In Mark 4, the disciples are again in a storm that is so strong that the boat is now filling with water. Jesus was awakened from His sleep, and verse 39 tells us, “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” In that instant, they saw Jesus like they had never seen Him before. They had seen His miracles, heard His sermons, and even saw Him walk upon another storm. But, on this day, He spoke and the wind ceased and the water had not so much as a ripple. The disciples said, “What manner of Man is this...?” They had witnessed Jesus do something that they did not have a category in which to place Him. After walking with Jesus for over forty years, I am still amazed that I can still learn something new about Him every day. His methods of deliverance are limitless. No wonder Corrie Ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” As an interesting side note to this story, the disciples were not the only ones that had a boat in this storm. But, they were the only boat that had Jesus on board. His presence made all the difference. A man is never as safe in a storm as when he is riding with Jesus. Because when the storm is at its worst, Jesus will always be at His best!
There are times when we find ourselves immersed in a storm. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 42:7, “...all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me.” Yet, he discovered the love of God in the day, and His song in the night. Our roots may grow wide in the sunshine, but they grow deep in the storms. Nineteenth-century American Abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” If God never sent to us an occasional storm the best our lives could ever hope for is to wonder aimlessly in a barren desert.
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2016 Alan Stewart