A Stormy Purpose

As we follow Jesus, our storms look different in the light of His power and wisdom. When sudden, unexpected storms come into our lives, we sometimes ask, “How is it possible to trust a God who allows this to happen?” But here’s the lesson that we must learn: We can find ourselves in the middle of God’s perfect will, and (at the same time) in the middle of a storm! For example, when author Gary Thomas and his wife considered buying a house, they prayed diligently for God to guide them. They figured that, if it wasn’t God’s will, He would close the windows of opportunity. The whatareyouafraidof4window didn’t close, so they proceeded with their purchase. Five years passed, and they enjoyed their home. Then the economy entered a tailspin, and their house was suddenly worth less than they had paid for it. They wondered why God hadn’t stopped them from making a bad investment. They had prayed. They had listened. They had not heard “no.” But one day, as Gary’s wife was seeking God, she heard His answer: “Have you considered the possibility that I wanted you in that neighborhood to minister, rather than to bolster your financial equity?” You see, Christ doesn’t ask us to take up our portfolios and follow Him. He asks us to take up our crosses (by sacrificing our plans and desires), and turn our lives – even our storms – over to Him. As in the case of Gary and his wife, God’s purpose for your life won’t always be easy. Storms may occur, but it’s possible that your purpose comes along with the storm.

Expect Them
It’s eye-opening that the apostle James described trials as a stormy sea. He said that we will encounter storms in this life, and without faith we will be like “a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6, New Living Translation). However, there is opportunity in every storm. In James 6:2-3, the apostle wrote, “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow (New Living Translation). Note that James doesn’t state, “If trouble comes your way.” He warns, “When trouble comes your way.” Clear skies are never promised in the Bible. Even Jesus, who lived a perfect life, faced a vicious storm. And God allowed Him to suffer, so that our sins could be forgiven. In addition, apostle Paul endured at least four shipwrecks! So, don’t be surprised by the storms that blow into your life. Expect them, and use them to strengthen your character, faith, and perseverance.

You Have a Safety Net
Many people believe “faith” blocks hardship. They think that, if they trust God, everything will be smooth sailing. But trusting God doesn’t keep storms away. In fact, sometimes it pushes us into deeper and more turbulent waters. Juan Carlos Ortiz (a preacher, evangelist, and author) shared a conversation he had with a trapeze artist about the security a safety net provides. The performer said that the net does the obvious – it keeps performers from being injured when they fall. But it also does much more. “Imagine there is no net,” he said. “We would be so nervous that we would be more likely to miss and fall. If there was not a net, we would not dare to do some of the things we do. But because there’s a net, we dare to make two turns, and once I made three turns – thanks to the net!” Ortiz saw an application for Christians: “We have security in God. When we are sure in His arms, we dare to attempt big things. We dare to be holy. We dare to be obedient. We dare, because we know the eternal arms of God will hold us if we fall.”

During life’s storms, you may be tempted to give up. But don’t. No matter how forceful the winds of life may be, Jesus is your safety net. Therefore, dare to do great things for Christ – even when you feel like your ship is sinking. If you begin to go under, God is there to catch you. And most importantly, with the Lord’s protection and power, you don’t need to fear any storm. c