Different Kinds of Storms

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Loving and Trusting God

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide. Secure whatever harm betide (happens). Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land. A shelter in the time of storm.
(From hymn by Vernon Charlesworth)

This post is based on Mark 4:35-41 and builds on Immanuel: Ruler of the Waves; Jesus Get Us; Do You Still Have No Faith?

Sherri’s Family was Saved

Storms around the world remind me of a true story back in 1999 from Oklahoma. Sherri Conley asked God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to save them. She, her husband, and two sons huddled in their hallway linen closet, begging the Lord for protection from a deadly tornado. After the storm passed, Sherri discovered that most of the house was swept away by the twister. The closet was the only thing left standing. Everything else was gone, but the Lord spared them.1

The Bible says we can’t get away from all strains and struggles in this life. But by God’s grace, we can get through the storms, calling on Christ for help. The Lord truly performed this Mark 4 miracle in history. It was literally a severe weather disturbance that meteorologists could measure and put on television or the internet. In the Bible, all sorts of troubles are called storms. When they come, Scripture reminds us:

Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned, received, heard, or seen about the Lord, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

In Mark 4, Jesus gives us eternal truths to think about all the time, and especially when life’s distresses assault us.

In Storms, Remember That God’s Providence Placed Us There

In Mark 4:35, Christ says to the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” He commands them to make this voyage. They’re not doing their own thing when they get into a mess. They’re doing God’s revealed will, and that’s instructive all by itself. Because sometimes we get confused. When troubles come, sensitive souls may think we must be disobeying God. Sometimes that’s true, but not here in Mark 4 and not always for us. At least two kinds of turbulence come in life: 1. Correcting storms and 2. Testing storms.

Correcting Storms

A correcting hardship is what the Lord sent Jonah who rebelled against God’s clear commandment. So the Lord sent a big storm and Jonah’s boat was almost broken up. The sailors cast lots to know who caused this trouble and it pointed to Jonah. So they threw him overboard and the sea quit raging. Then the Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah and he was in the fish’s belly for three days and nights.

It was scary and painful, but it was the best thing that ever happened to Jonah. It turned him from sin and made him pray to God for restoration. The Lord turned back Jonah in the right direction. It was a correcting storm. The Psalmist says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word….It was good for me to be humbled, so that I might learn your demands….Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law.”2

Rick Warren says, “If you’re running from what God has called you to do, be glad that He is calling you back to Him. The further you run from Him, the worse life will get. And the Lord wants to get your attention before it’s too late.” Scripture says: “Blessed is the one whom God corrects. So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”3

Testing Storms

Job’s case in the Bible is very different. He was a man after God’s own heart. The Lord said, “There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job suffers because the devil hates and oppresses him. Job loses his wealth, and health, and his ten children are killed on one day. His poor wife says: “Curse God and die.” But Job says: “Even though the Lord slay me, yet will I hope and trust in Him. He is my Deliverer, Redeemer, and Savior.”4

For Job the agony is a testing thing, sent by the Lord to mature Job. There is no direct connection between his sin and his affliction. God means it and works it for good to help Job grow in grace and faith. John Piper says: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of only three of them.” Sometimes we are not aware of any of God’s purposes.

Wisdom from Joni

Author Joni Eareckson Tada is now 74 years old. When she was 17, she fractured her back and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. She wrote:

No matter how long or deep your suffering, physically or emotionally, God is up to something in your life. Though you may not see or feel it, the Lord is refining your faith, honing your character, implanting fresh hope, exposing any resentments, helping you know Jesus better, widening your influence, imparting His courage, expanding your testimony, encouraging your weary soul, and much more. God is active! He is using your pain to cultivate something positive in you that, without the hardship, would not be produced. That’s why Christians can “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Friend, you can rest in that truth, and praise God for the great things He is doing, things you know or don’t know.5

A Good Prayer

Maybe our hardships are correcting storms. Psalm 139 closes with this prayer that I use and encourage others to use:

Search me, God, and know my heart.
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

When we pray like that, we ask the Lord to check us out, and show us where we need to change, so we can repent, get washed in Jesus’ blood again, and get back to following Christ. But if we are not rebelling against the Lord, we may consider it a testing storm, like this one in Mark 4. But let’s not doubt God’s goodness, wisdom, or power in hard times. He plans His work and works His plan for His glory and our everlasting good.

As for God, His way is perfect. The LORD’s word is flawless.
He shields all who take refuge in Him. (Psalm 18:30)

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 World Magazine (5-15-99).     2 Psalm 94:12, 119:67,71.     3 Job 5:17.     4 Job 1:8, 2:9, 13:15-16, 19:25-26.     5 James 1:2-3; joniandfriends.org.