Answers From the Word of God for Troubling Times
We all experience storms in our lives—those occasions that bring pain, suffering, or loss. It’s in turbulent times that all sorts of questions come to mind: Where is God? Why has this happened? Was it something I did? Did God cause it? If so, why? The only safe place to go for answers in tumultuous times is God's Word. Let's consider what it says about why God allows storms in our lives:
- To get our attention.The Lord speaks to us quietly in our hearts, but if we don’t pay attention, He will raise the volume by sending a storm into our lives. Out of love, He reproves us to protect us from destroying ourselves or others with our disobedience.
- To bring us to repentance.God used a literal storm to draw Jonah to repentance (Jonah 1:1-17). Although the Lord told him to go to Nineveh to "cry against it for their wickedness," Jonah boarded a ship "to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord" (v. 2-3). But no one can avoid God, since He is present everywhere.
While Jonah slept in the cargo hold of the ship, the Lord "hurled a great wind on the sea" (v. 4). All the sailors called on their gods, hoping that one of them would intervene. When they decided to cast lots to see which of them was to blame for the storm, the lot fell to Jonah.
He had foolishly tried to flee from God by leaving the land and going to sea, both of which were created and controlled by Him. In order to save the ship, Jonah told them to throw him overboard. When they did, the raging storm ceased.
Although Jonah tried to escape from the Lord, God never left him. Even in the sea, He rescued Jonah by sending a great fish to swallow him. Eventually he was vomited onto land and made his way to Nineveh to preach as the Lord had commanded. Yet even then, he resented the fact that the people repented and would no longer be judged for their evil ways.
In the same way, we bring trouble upon ourselves when we try to run away from God. Yet like Jonah, we'll discover that He is always with us, even in our disobedience. His desire is that we repent and return to Him.
- To conform us to Christ's image.God is willing to break us and cause suffering in order to glorify Himself by making us like His Son.
- To equip us for service.Having suffered through painful storms, we come out better equipped to be helpful to others.
- To demonstrate His power in our lives.God powerfully uses the situation to make us more useful than we were before.
- To reveal Himself to us.Turbulent times give us a new perspective on the Lord and how He works. Sometimes this comes after the storm when we look back and see how He brought us through it. Then we understand better that His strength was sufficient for us and His purpose was good.
- To demonstrate His love.Once we understand that God's thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours, we'll realize that any storm He brings is motivated by His love.
- To remind us who is in control.Because His knowledge is complete, God never makes mistakes. Nothing happens in our lives without His permissive will. His good purpose, mighty power, and unfailing love always govern the storms that come our way.
As you look back on past storms, what has the Lord taught you about Himself and His ways? Remember, God's Word is an immovable anchor in times of storm (Life Principle #3). Hold tight to His Word and you’ll be able to stay true when faced with life’s greatest challenges.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Life's Passing Storms,”