I don’t like storms, especially internal ones. They blow in unannounced. Life isn’t the smooth ride I thought it was going to be. But I’m learning (slowly) to thank God for the storm—even when in it.
Jesus planned to use His disciples powerfully, so He gave them tests. Two took place at the center of the lake. One tested their endurance (Matthew 14); the other threatened their lives (Matthew 8). In one, Jesus was praying up above; in the other sleeping in their midst.
Some storms find their source in God. Others come from the enemy. Some result from personal decisions, while others come simply from being in the human family. Regardless, God uses storms to build us, removing crutches so we are thrown upon Him. Ouch!
Because of their intensity, storms can bring new trust. But they can also defeat us. We don’t panic with a “3,” but an “8” changes the tone of our prayers. We face the danger of losing something precious—our reputation, our health, our job, our child. The storms the disciples faced were an “8” and a “10!”
One storm proved a defining event for all of the disciples, but especially for Peter. If we think we can avoid storms, we won’t grow. We must learn to fear God more than the fiercest storm. The disciples were terrified. When they discovered that Jesus controlled the waves, they relocated their fear.
The more mature the disciple, the bigger the storm. Sorry. Paul wrote, “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked.” The mightier the storm, the higher the potential for influence. As is the storm, so is the grace to endure it and grow.
When confronted by a storm, we might want to ask questions like, “Did I bring this on?” If so, repentance would dispel it. Think Jonah. Like Jesus, he was asleep—but he was running, not resting. Throwing cargo overboard didn’t solve the problem; tossing the prophet over did. The sad truth is that our disobedience brings storms into the lives of those who are close to us.
Other questions: Is God sending the storm to guide me? To change my direction? Or is He adjusting something internal, like faith? Is God answering my prayer to grow in trust? Is He allowing me to be challenged so I will see His power? And we can trust God regardless.
How can we pass the tests that storms bring upon us?
- Don’t make life decisions in the midst of a storm.
- Hang on.
- Let the storm address your inadequacy. Storms often cause some people to grow in fear rather than faith.
- Get ready for them. Put in storm windows. Strengthen the deficient areas.We don’t pray for storms, but we do prepare for them by wise living and upgrading trust.
Try to remember three things during the storm that the disciples learned: Jesus is watching. Jesus is praying. Jesus is coming!