Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Necessary Storm

Sometimes the Christian life is portrayed as if it is the ends to all problems - “Become a Christian and all your troubles will be over.”

Some Christians even suggest that if we are finding the going rough, and life difficult that we are out of favour with God. They give the impression that “The true Christian is a happy Christian”, but their definition of happiness is limited to this world, to health and success. Theirs is a very man centred view of Christianity and happiness.

But the greatest saints have always gone through the darkest storms. Spurgeon’s life was plagued by physical illness. Richard Wurmbrand – Tortured for Christ. Martin Luther – harassed and chased by the Roman Catholic Church, and plagued by depression.

Christianity is not the easiest life, but it is the best. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t mean a trouble free life. We see that fact quite clearly here in Mark 4:35-41

Jesus commands his followers to go to the far side of the lake, and as they obey him they get caught in a storm. The simple truth is that Jesus leads us into storms. That’s what we see here. But why did he do it? The exchange in the closing verses of the chapter gives us a clue – “Have you still no faith?” Jesus took them into the storm that they might see his glory and power and that their faith might be strengthened.

The storm was essential to the spiritual development of the disciples. Because of the storm they came to a much greater and clearer understanding of who Jesus really was. It was in the storm that they saw his power and glory. It was in the storm that they came to the end of their resources and had to turn to Jesus for help. It was because of the storm that their faith grew. The disciples had no way of knowing that at that terrible moment of knowing it, but that miserable storm was a vehicle for bringing them to know more of God.

Jesus led them into the storm to increase their faith.

The same is true for us – There are no exemptions from storms. Even when we are being obedient, we can find the dark clouds closing in around us. But what we need to remember is that they are for our good. The best thing that can happen to us as Christians is that we grow in our faith. Every storm is an opportunity to grow. Without the difficulties, trials, stresses, and even failures we would never grow to be what we should become. Jesus has never promised that we would have no afflictions, no troubles; he loves us too much for that.

This is storm theology. Storms are part of the process of spiritual growth. Trouble shows us our weakness and our frailty and draws us closer to God.

When we grow proud he may send a storm to exhaust our limited resources, and to remind us that we need him. He wants to get us to the point that the disciples came to; they couldn’t cope anymore so they cried out for help. Some storms are there to take us to the end of our resources, and throw us on God.

Sometimes we hold on too tightly to things, or even people, and we rely on them more than God. Some storms are to loosen our grip on this world.

Sometimes our eyes rarely look up to heaven, sometimes we are rarely looking forward to the next life. Some storms are to lift our eyes to the glorious future that awaits us.

Some storms are to enable us to see things from God’s perspective

Sometimes our prayer life has not been what it should be, and again God brings us to the point where we are on our knees before him. Some storms are to bring us right up to the throne of grace

Sometimes its not that we have done anything wrong, its just that our Saviour wants to move us on in our faith. Some storms are to refine our faith like gold or silver in a fire.

Sometimes the storms, as well as being for our benefit, are for the benefit of others. Some storms are to make our faith stand out all the more to those watching and to draw them to God light a lighthouse at the harbour entrance

But not all storms come because of our obedience – some do come because God is angry with us, and he sends the winds of trouble to steer us away from trouble, or to warn us that we are in danger.

He sometimes sends storms into the lives of unbelievers to waken them up to the danger they are in. He wants them to realise their weakness. Maybe you are in a storm and you have come to the end of your resources. Maybe you have been trying to kid yourself that you aren’t that bad a sinner, and now you see things mounting up around you and what you thought was little has escalated.

For the disciples it seemed as if Christ was oblivious to their plight, that he knew nothing of the danger. It’s a picture of we often feel in the midst of life’s storms. So often we mistakenly conclude that we are alone; that no one, not even God, knows what is happening to us and how we feel. How wrong we are! God knows every wave that falls, every wind that causes us to stagger. He knows the rate of our hearts, our breathing, the innermost thoughts of our minds, our emotions, even our dreams. The tiny boat out in the middle of the lake was the object of the most intense Heavenly attention. And so it is with us.

In heaven we shall thank God for every storm.


Kim said...

I have found that likening storms to going through a tunnel helps me make sense of them. Yes, the light at the end of the tunnel may be a goal, but sometimes, the lesson in inside the tunnel, inside the dark moments. I went through a very serious storm eight years ago, and it lasted for about two years. The passage you used in the previous entry, and your words today are very meaningful to me. The storm God sent me, and I know He sent it, was to grab my attention. It was difficult, but it was the best thing that God could have done at the time.

Mark Loughridge said...

Thank you Kim, I'm glad these posts strike a chord. Sometimes when we're in the tunnel, we cant even see the light at the end. But it's wonderful testimony to hear a person say with the Psalmist "It was good for me to be afflicted". 119:71