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.

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Incoming waves on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Walking in the storm with Jesus

It seems like 2013 has been an active storm season. People in Oklahoma have just been pounded, and while we in Kansas haven’t seen as much damage, we’ve certainly had our fair share of storms this year.

A storm chaser friend of mine tells me that I live in the Bermuda triangle of weather. And I’m really beginning to think that she’s right.

I was laughing last night as I was finishing up my packing because a pretty bad storm with lots of wind and rain and thunder just appeared over my house. It happened Monday night too, where there was just a little green on the radar and the moment the storm got to my house on the map, it blossomed into this terrifying looking swirl of reds and yellows.

And last night, the red and yellow just parked on top of me for a little while. Just in Reno county. Nowhere else.

And, yes, more branches are down (How is that possible? I have twigs instead of trees! Where are all these branches coming from?), but the basement stayed dry.

I thought it was interesting that this storm appeared out of nowhere last night because I had been thinking about what I was going to post this morning. I heard something on the radio yesterday that really encouraged me, and I thought I’d pass it along.

Incoming waves on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Incoming waves on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are Matthew 14:24-27.

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Everybody knows this story, just about. If you’ve been a Christ-follower for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard that Jesus walked on water and calmed storms. This is one of those iconic stories, and if you want to read the whole thing, you can find it in Matthew 14:22-33.

Usually everyone talks about Jesus walking on water. Or later in the story, Peter walks on water for a little while, and that has been something people talk about a lot too. But a comment I heard on the radio, made by Christian music singer Natalie Grant, has changed my perspective on this verse.

She pointed out that Jesus didn’t calm the storm from the shore. He didn’t calm the storm and then go out to them. No. He walked out to them in the storm, met them where they were, and then stayed in sight throughout the storm until He decided it was time for it to stop.

Have you ever thought of it that way? I hadn’t.

Everyone experiences storms in life, those difficult circumstances that weigh us down and frustrate us. Everyone goes through those times. And in the darkness of those moments or those seasons of life, it’s really tempting to think that Jesus isn’t close at hand. Because if He were close, there wouldn’t be a storm, right? Isn’t that our logic? If Jesus is around, everything will be fine?

Well, that’s true. But sometimes our definition of fine needs to be adjusted.

I truly believe that everyone is going through a storm in life, whether it’s work or family or whatever. We’re all surrounded by aspects of our life that we can’t control. We’re all being threatened with waves we can’t see over, with dark clouds that block the sunlight, with wind that makes it difficult to move, with the uncertainty of how long the storm will last. And it’s so easy to get so wrapped up in the storm that we forget to pay attention to Jesus. He’s standing right there. In the storm, in plain sight.

And, like in the story, He may even be calling you to get out of the boat and come join Him on the waves. I think it’s awesome that He didn’t calm the storm so Peter would feel more comfortable walking toward Him.

We may have to go deeper into the storm before He’ll choose to calm it down. We may have to go through a lot more trouble. But as long as we keep our eyes on Him, we won’t sink.

Don’t forget that He’s there. Don’t get so overwhelmed with the difficult things in your life that you think He isn’t right there with you. Remind yourself that He has walked out into the storms of your life to stand with you in your darkest moments, and when you can see Him, don’t take your eyes off Him.

Just think. Storms are powerful things, with a beauty that calm, peaceful days can’t quite capture. But we’re afraid of storms–and rightly so. But if we walk with Jesus, the storms can’t touch us. So don’t be afraid of them. Embrace them. Walk in them along with Jesus, and you’ll get to see the storms from a different perspective. Because if the storm can’t hurt you, then you just get to sit back and enjoy the ride.