We were reminded again last week of the power of nature when “an angry girl named Sandy” slammed the Eastern Seaboard causing unbelievable damage and the loss of a number of lives. Many lost their homes and businesses, and life–as they knew it–came to a screeching halt. Presidential campaigning was even curtailed for a couple days. Somehow perspectives were instantly changed into survival mode. Thousands have come to aid in the clean-up, and rebuilding will take months. For some life will never be the same again.
Storms can drastically change our plans and disrupt our lives. We don’t plan on them, and even though we might do some to prepare over them, we really have no control over them. But then over how much do we really have control? God is the one who determines if we will even take our next breath. Our idea of “control” is really just an illusion. The overwhelming power and uncontested authority of a major storm like hurricane Sandy is just another reminder that God is in charge and we’re not. When Job’s world came crashing down, including not only the loss of his livestock, but also the death of all his children as a result of great wind that swept across the wilderness and destroyed the house in which they were having a meal, Job received “counsel” from several so-called “comforters.” One of them, Elihu, said to Job, “Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold. From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen. Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. And it changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen” (Job 37:9-13). But didn’t Satan bring the adversity into Job’s life? Is he in control of the weather and storms? If you carefully read Job 1:13, you will discover that the power Satan exercised over Job was granted to him by the Lord. Satan may be “the prince of the power of the air” (Eh. 6:12), but that indicates his power over spiritual beings (fallen angels), not the physical elements.
We read in Gen. 8:1, that after the Flood of Noah, “God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided” (Gen. 8:1). During Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, they complained about their constant diet of manna and wanted some meat (Nu. 11:4-6,18). After Moses poured his heart out to God about the people’s request, “there went forth a wind from the LORD, and it brought quail from the sea…” (v. 31). The heavens and the heavenly bodies are “the work of Thy (God’s) fingers” (Ps. 8:3). “The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine; the world and all it contains, Thou hast founded them” (Psa. 89:11). Asaph, the writer of Psa. 83, asked God to use a storm as an instrument of fear: “So pursue them with Thy tempest, and terrify them with Thy storm” (v. 15). We see Him doing that very thing in Psa. 107:25-29: “For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psa. 148:7,8 calls for praise “…from the fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word.”
Who can forget the events in the life of the “reluctant missionary,” Jonah, when he tried running from God rather than going to preach in Nineveh? “…the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up” Jon. 1:4). And remember the storms on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus was here on earth. On the one occasion, Jesus was with His disciples in a boat when a great storm arose “so that the boat was covered with the waves” (Mt. 8:24). The frightened disciples awakened the sleeping Jesus who “rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'” (vv. 26,27). Waves large enough to cover a boat on a small lake in such a short time could only have been generated by a tremendously powerful wind, requiring a complex of forces in the atmosphere, triggered by the sun itself. Even when wind dies down, the waves will continue for a time, but suddenly both ceased at once. No known natural phenomenon could have produced this. Jesus removed not only the symptoms (the waves) but the cause (the wind). The Psalmist said, “The sea is His, for it was He who made it…Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all the deeps. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; who makes lightnings for the rain; who brings forth the wind from His treasuries” (Psa. 95:5; 135:6,7).
I guess there’s really no question Who is in control of the weather. You may hear about “climate change,” and how we are polluting the earth and causing changes in the weather, but the truth is–God is in control and we are not!! And storms aren’t random–whether in nature or in other areas of our lives such as health, marriage, job, family, or relationships. Nahum, who prophesied the destruction of Nineveh, said: “In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet” (Nah. 1:3). While there are many mysteries about storms and floods, God does nothing on a whim, but always with a purpose–His purpose. “When ‘storms’ hit your life or the lives of those you love, you start asking questions you wouldn’t have asked if it weren’t for the storm, questions that make you stop and think about what’s really important and what really isn’t. You face issues you might not otherwise face…Most importantly, the storm that’s blowing you around can actually blow you Home–to the God of the storm. Because, sadly, we just keep doing what we want to do with our life until there’s something we can’t fix, we can’t change, or we can’t control. So your storm may be your wake-up call: to change your plans; to take your clenched hands off the wheel and let the ONE who should have been driving all along take you where you were created to be” (Ron Hutchcraft in A Word with You, 10-31-12).
Do you happen to recall what it was that brought John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace,” to his knees to commit his life to Christ? He was a slave trader until a violent storm hit his ship and he cried out to Jesus to save him from his sin. It took a storm and a great fish to get Jonah to Nineveh. Storms come in various forms but God always has a purpose in them. The child of God can trust Him even in the things he/she doesn’t understand. Remember, God said: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). Don’t forget Elihu’s words to Job: “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen” (Job 37:13). If God specializes in controlling storms, then what storm in your life do you need to commit to Him today? Pain? Doubt? Discouragement? A broken relationship?
P.S. God doesn’t promise security from life’s storms, but security in life’s storms (cf Isa. 43:2). If God sends the storm, He will also steer the vessel. Smooth sailing doesn’t make skillful sailors. Better to go through the storm with Christ than to have smooth sailing without Him. It’s not what you are walking through but who you are walking with that makes all the difference.