Storms north of Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God is bigger than your storm

Storms are a part of life in the Midwest. It’s not that we get used to them; it’s just that they don’t really surprise us. That’s good to a certain extent because few people panic when bad weather approaches, but it can be bad too because sometimes I think we take the weather for granted and forget how dangerous it can be.

We’re entering into storm season, and the country has already experienced quite a bit of tragedy associated with our normal spring storms. Death and destruction always follow big storms, and it’s easy to get to the point where you think it’s too difficult to keep on. I mean, what’s the point of rebuilding when another storm is probably just around the corner?

Storms north of Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Storms north of Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is John 16:33.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The world is full of storms, both literal and figurative, but the difference between an actual storm and a stormy season in your life is that usually you can take shelter from real wind and rain and hail. And a stormy season of life is something you really can’t escape. It follows you everywhere. Almost like you have your own black cloud hanging over your head, and there’s nothing you can do to get away from it. It just follows you around, dumping rain on you constantly.

Believe it or not, you aren’t alone. You may feel like it some days, but you aren’t the only person to ever have to weather a storm. And there have been many others who’ve gone through the same storm you are. And many of them are just waiting for the opportunity to encourage and help someone else get through it, but they can’t help if they don’t know about it.

Today’s verse comes after Jesus sat His disciples down and pretty much told them that He was going to die and go away for a while. He wanted them to know that even though He was leaving, they would be okay and they wouldn’t be alone.

When we encounter storms in our lives, it’s easy to lose hope. It’s easy to give up. It’s much harder to hold on to faith, believing that there’s a purpose and that God can bring beauty out of the destruction. He can. He’s done it countless times throughout the history of the world, and our lives are no different. But when you’re in the middle of a storm, it doesn’t feel like anything can be beautiful ever again, and it doesn’t feel like anything has a purpose at all.

The disciples were going to feel that too. Jesus knew. And that’s why He told them this. No, I don’t think they got it right away, but we shouldn’t be too hard on the disciples. Many times we miss the point of what Jesus says too.

Everyone faces storms, figurative and literal. It’s part of being human. It’s part of living in this broken world. But what we should never forget is that God is bigger than our storms. Yes, a storm can cause immense damage and can take precious lives, but God is strong enough to help us through it. If He allows us to go through a storm, there’s a reason. There’s nothing random about God’s choices.

God is able to overcome any trouble we face, and for those who belong to Him, we don’t need to fear the world or anything in it. God is bigger than the world’s problems, and He’s strong enough to take disaster and make it beautiful.

It’s our job to remember that. It’s up to us to never give up. Hanging on to faith and hope is difficult, especially when you watch the storm tearing down pieces of your life, but we have to remember that God is in control and He never lets us go through anything without a reason. And no matter how impossible the obstacles in your life may seem, God is still bigger.

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Overcoming trouble

Life can really suck sometimes. And there is this troublesome expectation in the Christian community that even if life sucks, we need to be happy about it. So no one feels free to be “not okay” around other believers. We all put on masks. We all say that we’re fine. We all fake happiness and peace and general okayness because if we’re aren’t happy or at peace or generally okay, we must be bad Christians.
 
But that’s not the case. Sometimes life really does suck. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes dreams fall apart. And when bad things happen, it’s not bad to grieve for a while. It’s not wrong to be sad.
 
I’m not really sure why the church got the concept that we have to be okay all the time. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s selfishness. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding of Scripture. I don’t know. But there is evidence in Scripture that Jesus grieved. Jesus felt. He experienced sadness, and He never hesitated to cry when He was mourning.
 
So if Jesus can do it, why can’t we?
 
I’m thinking of the time He raised Lazarus from the dead. It’s the shortest verse in the Bible. “Jesus wept.” I can’t give you the reference, but it’s there. Jesus arrived, found Lazarus dead, and cried because He was sad. Now . . . why He was sad is a different story altogether. But that’s not what I was going to talk about this morning. Although, I do want to focus in on what Jesus did. He wept. And then He got busy. He didn’t stand still. He didn’t stay put. He took time to grieve, but He didn’t stay in a dark well of grief. He got up, and He moved on.
 
That’s hard to do. When you’re grieving, it’s so much easier to stay where you are. It’s miserable, but it feels like it would take too much effort to keep moving. It feels like you have shoes made out of cement. But the longer you mourn, the darker your life will get.  And it’s hard to see the truth when you’re existing in the darkness of your grief.
 
And the truth is that the world is full of troubles. The world is full of problems. The world is full of reasons for grief and mourning. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or where you came from or why you’re sad. Everyone has something in their life that can leave them stranded in dark well of depression.
 
But Jesus said something in John 16:33 that I think is imperative to remember, especially if you’re grieving today.
Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

 

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
 
The world sucks. It’s full of darkness and sadness and trouble, and it’s been that way since our first parents sold us out. And as long as we live here, we’re going to have hard times. Economically. Financially. Troubles in family. Troubles at work. Troubles at church. Troubles in general.
 
But take heart.
 
What does that even mean? That’s one of those figures of speech that always appears in Medieval movies when the brave knights are trying to cheer frightened villagers up. But what does it mean? Well, I checked the Amplified Version, and fortunately it had a little bit more explanation:
 
“but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!”
 
That’s what it means. Be confident, certain and undaunted.
 
You’re going to have trouble in this world but be confident, certain and undaunted. . . . about what?
 
Jesus said He has overcome the world. And the Amplified Version continues, “I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.”
 
Jesus has conquered the world. We live in a world full of darkness and shadow, but Jesus is stronger than darkness and shadow. He’s stronger than our troubles. He stronger than the things that make us sad. And He has taken the power of those things away.
 
The only way the grief and darkness and trouble of this world have power over us is if we give them power back to control our lives.
 
We have a choice. We don’t have to be controlled by our grief or by the hard times that this world seems to thrive on.
 
It’s not wrong to grieve. It’s not wrong to mourn. But in the midst of those necessary emotional releases, don’t build your house there. Don’t root yourself there. Because if you give those things power in your life, you will live in darkness. And nothing grows well in darkness.
 
So if you’re sad today, mourn. Grieve. Take a moment to understand that you’re not a bad Christian because you feel sad.
 
But don’t stay there.
 
Get up. Take heart. Because grief and mourning have no power over you.