Navigating the Storms of Life

Navigating the Storms of Life (JPEG)

Nahum 1:3. The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. NKJV

The book of Nahum is one of the 12 minor prophets found at the end of the Old Testament. Nahum lived in the seventh century BC during a time of great political upheaval due to the rise of the Assyrian Empire. His messages sought to encourage God’s people who were being oppressed by a seemingly invincible foe. The book opens with a song of praise to God for his power and justice. The spectacular manifestations of nature are symbolic of his power.

This verse is a wonderful source of hope in times of trouble. It shows the sovereignty of God, even during difficult times. The Bible has a lot to say about storms. Storms are in God’s control, like everything else. A physical “storm” can be a symbol or type of difficult or turbulent times. In that sense, storms come to every one of us. One moment all is well; then, in a flash, all is hell.

It is very important to learn to discern where a storm comes from. Unless you know its origin you can become very confused and get sidetracked from God’s purposes for your life. The Bible shows us clearly that storms come from at least three places – the enemy, from God, and storms created by human decisions. We need to know the source so we can discover the solution and find peace.

A Storm from the Enemy

Some storms or difficulties in life are an attack from the enemy who tries to thwart God’s purposes in our life and hinder us in our journey of faith.

Biblical Example: The disciples in the boat (Mark 4:35-41). Jesus had been ministering all day and he was physically exhausted. He told the disciples to get into the boat and to go to the other side of the lake. Sometimes a sign of doing God’s will is a storm. Circumstances often come against us when we do what’s right. Storms from the enemy come to stop you doing the will of God and to destroy your faith.

Jesus rebuked the storm then challenged them about their faith. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” Jesus is able to transform a great storm into a great calm with just a word. Jesus has power over the storms of life and can rescue us from them.

How do we know that this storm is from the enemy? Jesus rebuked the storm. Jesus is not having a go at nature itself. He saw beyond the storm and saw the hand of the adversary who was seeking to stop him and the disciples. We need to look behind circumstances and see what is causing them. Look past the immediate and see the cause. If it is clearly an attack of the enemy, then submit to God, resist the devil, and expect him to flee from you (James 4:7). We can take authority over the works of the enemy.

A Storm from God

At times God sends storms into our lives.

Biblical Example: Jonah (Jonah 1:4, 12). The book of Jonah contains the dramatic account of Jonah’s attempt to escape from God’s presence by boarding a ship bound for Tarshish, only to be thwarted by a raging storm and returned to land imprisoned in the belly of a great fish.

Sometimes we disobey God and things seem to go all right for a while. It is important understand that favorable circumstances are the last thing that proves that you are in the will of God. The primary proof is obedience. When we go against the known will of God, God often sends a storm. You cannot run away from God. He’s serious about us living the kind of life that pleases him and getting on board with his purposes.

When we think of sinning or displeasing God, we usually think of doing something wrong. But when God calls us to do something right and we don’t do it, we may also encounter storms from, God just like Jonah. God, in his mercy, gave Jonah a second chance to obey him and fulfill his call to preach to Nineveh.

Are you facing a storm from God? Is it an external storm of consequences of your disobedience or is in an inner storm because of your neglect of God’s directive to your life? Turn around, get back on track and begin obeying him immediately, then throw yourself on his mercy.

A Storm from Human Decisions

Some storms or difficulties in life come from human decisions. We make choices and then face the consequences of those choices.

Biblical Example: Paul’s shipwreck (Acts 27:13-44). The last two chapters of the book of Acts record the fulfillment of Paul’s dream to go to Rome. Due to bad weather, they were delayed in their journey and Paul warned them of continuing on. His advice was either through divine guidance or human wisdom, as he had been shipwrecked three times already and had spent a night and a day in the open sea (2 Corinthians 11:5). But the majority overruled him. As they set sail again, a “gentle south wind” turned into a violent northeaster, which they had to confront with all its force. The sun and stars did not appear for many days, which meant that they could not determine which direction they should go. They finally came to the stage of giving up hope of being saved. Paul offered them encouragement in this hopeless situation. Although everyone was saved, they were shipwrecked on an island. God worked despite the unpredictability of nature and human errors in judgment.

Sometimes we make unwise decisions without consulting God’s guidance and we end up in a storm of our own making. What did Paul do? Rebuke the storm? No. Repent? No. He placed his trust in the Lord, cried out for mercy and accepted the consequences of the unwise decisions of others. The Lord has his way in the whirlwind and the storm, no matter where it comes from (even if we’ve caused it ourselves), if we let him.

Are you the cause (or partial cause) of a storm? Tell God (or others) that you’re sorry and ask for his forgiveness. Thank him for the lesson and throw yourself on his mercy. The sooner you admit it and take responsibility for it, the better for you and everyone. Seek to put things right as soon as possible. Don’t delay or the storm will simply keep getting bigger!

Conclusion

Those are many possible causes of a storm. We have looked at three of them, today – God, the enemy, and human decisions. I am sure there are other causes too … where things just happen and we aren’t sure why. It could be simply the consequences of living in a fallen (broken) world. Not all of life is that clear-cut or easily understandable. Sometimes there can be multiple causes for a storm and this may include some unknown influences. Life can be complex at times.

See my poem ‘Stormy Winds‘ about a perfect storm my wife and I went through a few years back.

God can speak to us out of our storms (Job 38:1; 40:6). This message can give you a fresh understanding about where various storms come from so you don’t mistake their origin and, in doing so, delay their resolution. God is still “Lord of the Storms” and he works all things together for our ultimate good when we love him.

May you know amazing peace IN any storm you are currently experiencing and resilience to hang in there until you are through the other side.

Mark spoke this message at Bayside Church recently. You can watch it on You Tube

Reflection Questions:

  1. Describe a storm that you experienced that you believe occurred because you were doing God’s will. What happened, how did you handle it and what did you learn from this experience?
  2. Describe a storm that occurred because you ran in the opposite direction of God’s known will? What happened, how did you handle it and what did you learn from this experience?
  3. Describe a storm of your own making or one caused by other people. What happened, how did you handle it and what did you learn from this experience?
  4. What are some of the consequences of wrongly discerning the cause of a storm?
  5. What are some keys to rightly discerning the cause of various storms that come into our life?

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