Weathering the Storm

Life can be rough sometimes!  Just as the weather can change with little or no warning, winds of change can come into our life quickly and unexpected storms come raging in with all of their power and fury and leave us in a whirlwind.  These storms come not only to those who have not accepted God’s salvation and those who are disobedient to God, but also to those who are.
In fact, we’re reminded of the account of Job to whom some of the worst storms that any human has ever endured and yet was completely obedient and righteous before God.  We find many Psalms written by King David, a man after God’s own heart, filled with heartache and cries out to God’s help during his many storms of life.  None of us are exempt from these stormy seasons of life and just like the weather forecast, we won’t always be able to see them coming in order to prepare for them.
This morning, we’re going to gain insight on how to weather these storms of life so that instead of being broken and bitter, that we become stronger and better.
Every season of our lives are permitted by God for His divine plans and purposes.  We don’t always understand or see what God is doing, but we know that we can trust Him.  Romans 8:28 reminds us that God works all things for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2  a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3  a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6  a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7  a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8  a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Though there are times and seasons in our lives for everything; both happy times of rejoicing and sorrowful times of mourning, God makes everything beautiful in its time.  This is an incredible truth to remember during the difficult storms of life.  This storm will pass and it is ultimately intended for my good.
In the natural world, storms of all sorts are caused when high pressure systems surround a low pressure system.  When the two come together, the atmosphere is disturbed from its normal state and the result is amazing!  Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail storms, all sorts of storm systems are birthed from these conditions.
In life, we generally see two different types of storms.
The first type of storm is one that results from foolish decisions that we make.  When we live life outside of the commands and principles that God has given us in His word, we choose to live outside of His covering and protection and storms are certain to follow.  These storms are a form of God’s loving discipline intended to prevent us from making the same foolish decisions again.  These storms are intended to keep us walking in freedom and in the blessing of God.  They are the road signs warning us to turn around before experiencing some of the greater consequences and pain that comes if we decide to continue forward away from God.
The storm that we’re going to focus on this morning, however, is the type of storm that comes unexpectedly and not as a result of sin in our lives.  These are the storms that often cause the most confusion and frustration for us because we don’t foresee them and don’t understand them.
These types of storms are not God’s punishment or judgment as we tend to always try and view them as.  These storms have a different purpose, which is usually to build up our faith and character.  They are permitted to come into our lives to mature and develop us.
Although, this may be the purpose for which God permits these storms in our lives, the way in which we respond to these storms can make or break us.  When these storms come into our lives, we can either allow them to build us up or tear us down.
Think of our lives as a ship out out on the waters that we are the captain of.  When a storm comes our way, there are decisions that every captain has to make to respond to that storm.  The same goes for us as we steer the ship of our lives in response to the storm that God has permitted to come our way.
Here are the options for the captain of a ship with a storm approaching.
1. Avoid the storm
The safest place for a ship is out at sea out of the path of an incoming storm.
Many try this same option in life believing it to be the safe option, however, it simply does not work.  When we try to avoid or ignore realities in our lives such as a lost loved one, lost job, debt, relationship issues, etc, it only increases the intensity of the storm once it is no longer avoidable or able to be ignored.
When storms of life come our way, we must accept responsibility for them and face them head on.  As with most storms, there will be damage.  However, the damage caused by larger storms such as a hurricane are far greater than the damage caused by a small thunderstorm.  It’s best to address the thunderstorms in life instead of avoiding them until they continue building up into a hurricane.
2. Stay docked at harbor
This is the most dangerous place for a ship with a storm approaching.  Ships were not designed to deal with the waves beating them against the steel and concrete commonly found in the harbor and once broken free, the ships become dangerous tools of destruction as they are tossed around by the storm.
In life, if we take the stance that we are going to stubbornly remain unmoved and unchanged by storms, they will break us and those around us throughout the process.  Storms of life are permitted because there is a change that needs to take place in our lives.  If we take the stance that we will remain unchanged in pride, we stand resisting God instead of cooperating with Him.  James 4:6 reminds us that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
When storms of life come our way, instead of resisting them, we should learn to ask God what He is doing so that we can cooperate with Him and enable the storm to pass quickly having performed its purpose in our life.  Too many of us spend our lives resisting storm after storm staying chained to a harbor that God is trying to set us free from.
3. Ride out the storm
This option is what ships were designed to do.  They were designed to head straight into the massive waves and wind caused by storms and to steer through them.
This is what God also designed us to do when storms of life come our way.
There are two things that God will do on our behalf when the storms of life come our way.
In Matthew 8, we see Jesus rebuke and calm the storm.  There are times when we cry out to God for His help and He simply removes us from the storm.
In Matthew 14, Jesus asked Peter to come to Him out of the ship and onto the waves.  Jesus may remove us from the storm, but more commonly, He beckons us simply to ‘Come’ and allow Him to guide us through the storm onto the other side.
This requires a tremendous amount of faith and trust in God.  It requires courage, boldness, and strength; all things that He will give us.  It requires us to make tough decisions and humility to allow God to change us and to direct us.
In the midst of a storm, the ship’s captain must trust the guidance instruments as to stay on course through the storm and avoid getting caught and drug along with the storm.  His judgment must be made on the truth of the data that his instruments are providing and not be swayed by what he might think is better based on what he sees in the storm around him.
In the same way, to navigate through the storms of life, we must stand firm on the word of God and not be swayed to do what might seem right based on our circumstances.  His word never fails, but the storms of life can easily deceive and betray us taking us even further into them.  Jesus gave us this parable regarding this:
Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
The word of God is our foundation that cannot be removed by the storms of life.  We must remember that the word of God, however, is not an anchor which serves to weight us down and allow us to take the full blunt of the storm.  The word of God is our compass which guides us and directs us through the storm.  It is the firm foundation of truth that we can rely on despite what the storms of life may try to convince us to otherwise do.
Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
As we allow God’s word to guide and direct us through the storm and we allow God to do whatever work He is trying to do in our lives, the storm will pass.  In the end, God will work these storms for our good and has only our best in mind through them.  He will not let us endure the storms of life alone, but has promised never to leave nor forsake us and to be with us and for us.  In fact, even if damage is caused during the storms of life, we are promised that God is our restorer.  Remember Job, who had everything taken from him except his own life and endured a storm of life that has never before nor after been paralleled, had twice what was taken from him restored to him by God.
Whether you are in one of life’s great storms currently, or preparing for the next storm to come to pass, you can trust in God.  He is faithful and good for all generations and all eternity and He is on your side!