April 30, 2011

The "I" of the storm

Problems and difficulties are an inevitable part of living. We all face trials at many points in our lives. It is the suddenness of storms that catch us unaware, striking with a swiftness that takes our breath away.

However, have you ever stopped to identify where the storm has come from? Once you have determined who the author of the storm is, it then becomes much easier to know what actions to take while in the storm.

Storm 1
Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" Matthew 8:23-27

This storm came up without warning. It was a furious and violent storm that left these seasoned fishermen frightened for their very lives.

This storm did not originate from God. It was sent by Satan to hinder the work of God. Jesus was sleeping in the boat and the fearful men woke him. Jesus rebukes the storm. The word “rebuked” is the Greek work: epitimaƵ () which also means – warned, gave orders, sternly said. Jesus gives us His authority to speak to these types of storms and we are reminded of this as we see that Jesus also sternly spoke to his disciples

Storm 2

We find another sleeping man in this storm; Jonah. Jonah was running away from God. This storm originated from God and the purpose was to draw him back to Himself and the purpose God had ordained for Jonah.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”   Jonah 1:4-6
This storm arose because of Jonah’s disobedience and God was using this storm as a tool.

Sometimes God delivers us from storms but there are other times that we have to go through the storm and the outcome may not be one that appears, at first, “victorious”.

Storm 3

Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asiaere…winds were against us.. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea…Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous.. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along…We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved..  Acts 27:1- 44
Paul was assured by an angel “Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” Yet the storm was one that he had to go through. Paul stood on God’s promise even while he helped the soldiers lighten the load of the ship throwing overboard those things that would cause the boat to sink in the storm.

This storm was definitely not of God but it was one that Paul had to go through. It was the word of God’s assurance, prayer and action that carried him through this prolonged storm. No rebuke stopped this storm and this one ended in shipwreck. Sometimes our lives look like they have been “shipwrecked”. Torn, battered, bruised and broken but we are still victorious.

There was a word that Paul used when he described the loss of cargo and it is the Greek word “zemia” which means “to suffer loss by casting away”. This loss requires deliberate action and God may challenge you to deal with things in your life that hinder God’s working. It might be time for you to toss some things overboard.

It makes a great deal of difference what “kind” of storm you are in.

• Storm 1 originated from Satan in order to hinder God’s work and the disciples were to take authority over the storm. This storm drove them to call out to God.

• Storm 2 originated from God and it was sent to show Jonah that he was going in the wrong direction. This storm was to drive him back to God.

• Storm 3 originated from Satan and it came because Paul was in the centre of God’s will. Paul sought God through prayer and it involved action on Paul’s part.

• Some storms are simply of our own making (which is another lesson all in itself).

No matter what type of storm you are facing, God will take care of you. He will see you through each and every storm. Seek Him for understanding on the cause of your storm. Ask Him for wisdom and follow His direction. He is the “I” in the middle of each storm.

“I am with you even to the very end of the age”. Matthew 28:20

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