Last week, our pastor preached the parable of the house built on the rock versus the house built on the sand. He spent a lot of time talking about storms–the fact that they come on all of us, that they can be devastating or they can be weathered with Jesus as our rock. During the course of the next week, my Bible reading plan landed me on the first chapter of Jonah, which tells the story of a big storm. So I thought it would be worthwhile to make some observations about storms. Nothing profound, but definitely truths I needed to be reminded of.
- Storms are often corrective, not punitive. I confess, this is not my thought, but a note I have written next to Jonah chapter 1 in my Bible. I’m sure it came from a sermon or a Sunday school class lesson, but it bears repeating. God was correcting Jonah’s course, not lashing out in punishment. He wanted Jonah to do what He asked him to do, so He made the circumstances such that Jonah had to notice and confront his sin of disobedience.
- Sometimes the storm God brings to correct our path also affects the lives of those around us. Those poor sailors! They were in the midst of a terrible storm that had everything to do with Jonah and nothing to do with them! Isn’t that the way storms are sometimes? Innocent bystanders (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) get caught up in them with us and are as bewildered and terrified as we are. Maybe more so.
- God can use our storm to show His glory to those caught up in it with us. Even though that storm wasn’t meant to correct the sailors’ course, God used Jonah’s storm to reveal Himself to the sailors. Because of it, they called on God and they witnessed His great power. The storm wasn’t for nothing in the sailors’ lives, either.
I don’t know about you, but thinking through storms in this way reminded me that a storm is never pointless, even if I am not its main focus. I hope that next time life’s winds whip up the sea around me, I’ll remember Jonah and the sailors and open my heart to whatever the Lord wants to teach me–big or small.
Have you ever been an “innocent bystander” caught in someone else’s storm? How did you deal with that? In the end, what did you learn through that experience?