A few weeks ago on Sabbath night, after I closed Sabbath with my father at his house, I was driving home. On a clear day, I would see a nice sunset in the west as I drove home. This time, I only saw heavy dark clouds and a lot of lightning in the clouds. When I was nearly home—about 2 km out—a few raindrops began to fall on my windshield. I stopped for a red light and I saw the wind picking up, there was sand flying through the air, and pieces of cardboard flying around. The wind was unusually strong suddenly. After the light turned green, I was about 1 minute from home; the rain began to fall harder. Now I was about 30 seconds from home when conditions are good, but the rain started to come down so heavily, I could not see the road in front of me. I slowed down to a very slow pace and kept myself on the road by looking at the yellow line in the middle of the road, just ahead of the left corner of my car. That is all I could see. There was not a proper shoulder to pull off on. There were cars behind me. I could see car headlights only on the occasional oncoming vehicle. I felt like I was driving nearly blind as I inched along. Then how was I to recognize my driveway? It was on the left, but I could not even see the left-hand side of the road. I could see the street lights and I knew that my driveway was adjacent to the second street light. As I approached the second light, I carefully turned the car left and found myself pulling into the driveway. I was very much relieved when I finally pulled into the garage and closed the door to the outside.
It had been a very hot and humid day with temperatures above 35C. The rain brought much relief from the heat and humidity.
After I entered the house—within 10 minutes the storm had abated and the wind died down and the rain had slowed down to a gentle shower.
But those 10 minutes caused quite a bit of damage to some trees in my backyard—as you can see from the photos in the title section of this article. Those trees were damaged in that 10 minutes.
Upon entering the house, I saw a group of young people from the church (along with my son and daughter), playing a Bible game in the living room.
I told them about the harrowing experience. They could still hear the storm. My daughter gave a bit of a sheepish smile.
You see, my daughter was born with a congenital muscle condition. Her muscles are overactive at times and when it is hot and humid she suffers a lot. She is very prone to heat stroke and at times in her childhood (before we knew of her condition), after spending time in the outside on very warm days she would get sick, sometimes to the point of fever and severe vomiting. Just from the heat. When we are uncomfortable in the heat, she is suffering immensely.
It had been a very hot and humid week, and although I have air conditioning in my house, it is an old house and the air conditioning often does not reach the top floor of the house where our bedrooms are. For a few nights she slept poorly due to the heat. The previous night she had been up half the night, taking cold showers and putting cold packs on her neck and head. The following day, Sabbath, she still managed to go to church, even though feeling very poorly. She came home early to sleep. Sunday she was expected to go in to work. She was thinking of calling in sick, and sent a text message to her boss. That did not go over well, since she had already asked for the Sunday of the conference off on August 4th. She knew she had to work then on this Sunday, so, she prayed.
Her description of the event following her prayer can be found on page 19.
A storm came. The storm lasted ten minutes. The storm was over. The air was cool. The damage was done. Sharon slept well that night and had a good day at work the following day.
Coincidental? Or an answer to prayer? Only God knows, but Sharon was blessed the next day.
Why do I relate this experience?
Many worldly people do not take God seriously. They ridicule Christians for their weakness in their belief system. However, who can contend with the power of our God? “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17. “Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: He is mighty in strength and wisdom.” Job 36:15. “Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto Thee!” Psalm 71:19
Yes, He is very powerful. He created the world in six days. He stopped the mouths of lions, and walked in the midst of fire. He destroyed mighty armies, stilled the storm, divided the Red Sea, fed over a million people in the desert for 40 years, and much more.
He also has answered prayers in a remarkable manner many times in the past. Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still so that it would not set before he could win the battle against the Canaanites, and it did. (Joshua 10:12–13). He answered the prayer of Hezekiah for healing before Isaiah had walked out of the palace (2 Kings 20:4–5), and then He turned the sun back ten degrees as a sign for Hezekiah (v. 10–11). Before Daniel finished his prayer, the angel Gabriel was at his side to answer his prayer (Daniel 9:21–22).
Interestingly enough, during that ten-minute storm, although some mighty branches fell, branches that were full of leaves, that looked healthy and alive, not one petal fell off my small delicate flowers.
We can learn many interesting lessons from storms. Although, this particular storm came as a blessing for Sharon, storms have been known to cause damage, as this one did also. I was thinking that in the midst of a spiritual storm, many Christians who look good and healthy are secretly proud and arrogant, and in a time of spiritual crisis (storm), they may fall as they are rotten on the inside; but the humble flowers will be kept in the hand of One who is mightier than the storm.
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. . . Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 188
Although He is mighty and powerful, our God has a different side to Him. He is very gentle and loving. Jesus has a soft and loving heart. He loves and pities His children in their suffering and is gracious to them and helps them for what others may think are the smallest of matters in the scheme of eternity and the universe, but He hears their prayers. To Elijah, the Lord answered his prayer on Mount Carmel with fire, but shortly afterwards the Lord spoke to him, not in fire, wind or earthquake, but with a still small voice. (2 Kings 18–19). Sometimes the Lord speaks in a mighty manner, sometimes very quiet.
His gentle nature is well portrayed in the following Bible verse: “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” Isaiah 42:3. Isaiah wrote this verse and Jesus quoted it. “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory.” Matthew 12:20
Jesus changed the final word from “truth” to “victory.”
Apparently, victory is synonymous with truth. “Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.” –The Acts of the Apostles p. 113. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Acts 8:32
How tenderly He deals with His erring children. How careful He is not to break that bruised reed, or quench that smoking flax. How gently He seeks to bring them back to the fold. How patient He is with our weaknesses. How He cares for us in our trials and difficulties in life. When He sees one spark of hope—He will not quench that spark, but will nurture it in the hopes that it will grow.
Jesus is the loving Shepherd, who is gently leading His sheep. “Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His
servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep. . . .
“Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died. The distress of every one touches His heart. The cry for aid reaches His ear. He came to draw all men unto Himself. He bids them, ‘Follow Me,’ and His Spirit moves upon their hearts to draw them to come to Him. Many refuse to be drawn. Jesus knows who they are. He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care. He says, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’ He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 479–480
“The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Psalm 145:8
“The great mass of the world will reject God’s mercy, and will be overwhelmed in swift and irretrievable ruin. But those who heed the warning shall dwell ‘in the secret place of the Most High,’ and ‘abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ His truth shall be their shield and buckler. For them is the promise, ‘With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.’ Psalm 91:1, 4, 16.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 167
VICTORY IN THE STORM
I saw the following quote on Facebook and it appears on many web sites—I do not know who posted it, but it made me think.
“The Devil whispered in my ear, ‘you’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devil’s ear, ‘I am a child of God, A woman of Faith, A warrior for Christ. I am the storm.’”
If you google this quote, you will find multiple web sites that sell t-shirts with this quote on it with various pictures of men or women bearing armour, or an evil depiction of the forces of darkness. Sometimes with the word “woman,” and sometimes with the word “man”. So it can be addressed to either men or women.
But the truth we glean from this is that we can withstand any storm in life, if we are children of God, people of faith, warriors for Christ. We may be in the storm, but are we the storm?
We all belong to the Christian army and must be wearing the armour of God (Ephesians 6:13–17). We are warriors for Christ and do not fear any storms. The fiery darts of the enemy will not touch us if we are wearing the armour of God. We are to be courageous and go forward, never giving up. Daily we are fighting battles and the storms that the enemy brings and, in Christ, we can come off victorious. He has gained the victory for us already. Remember, “the battle is the LORD’s.” 1 Samuel 17:47
In order to be able to conquer the enemy, we must be stronger than the enemy, but that is not the case in the Christian warfare. Our enemy is much stronger than we are. We need the strength of the One who has defeated our enemy on the cross and can withstand any storm that our enemy throws at us.
When Jesus was with His disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee, a storm arose. The boat was about to sink in a violent storm, so they thought. Jesus was peacefully sleeping in the boat, not fearing the storm at all.
“And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep.” Matthew 8:24. So, what did the disciples do? “And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish” (v. 25). And what did Jesus answer? “And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (v. 26). The reaction of the disciples? “But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of Man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!” (v. 27)
Jesus’ disciples could not withstand the storm that night. They tried and failed to the point that they could no longer try any more. Their only course of action was to ask Jesus to intervene. They cried out to Jesus in fear. What were they to do when their ship sank? They had spent all their energy and strength and seemed doomed to perish.
Jesus, woke from His sleep and rebukes them, stating they had no faith. Then He spoke to the storm as to a friend. He told it to be still, and it was.
Satan did not have to whisper in their ear, “You aren’t strong enough to withstand the storm,” because they were aware of that fact after struggling for hours.
There has not been a true Christian that could withstand the storms of life in their own strength and they recognize that. Jesus did not call His disciples into service because of their ability to withstand the storms sent by the enemy. He never asked them to withstand the storm. He only asked them to have faith. It is faith in Christ that can overcome the world. Our resilience and courage comes, not from our own internal resources, but from our connection to Christ. Jesus has already conquered sin and death. Satan’s fate has already been sealed, and we have all been enlisted into the army of Christ.
We are not only to withstand the storm, but to rise above it as does the eagle. We are to draw our strength from above, being in constant connection with Jesus, through prayer. We will then be able to look any challenging circumstances in the eye, confident that they do not control us.
“The eagle of the Alps is sometimes beaten down by the tempest into the narrow defiles of the mountains. Storm clouds shut in this mighty bird of the forest, their dark masses separating her from the sunny heights where she has made her home. Her efforts to escape seem fruitless. She dashes to and fro, beating the air with her strong wings, and waking the mountain echoes with her cries. At length, with a note of triumph, she darts upward, and, piercing the clouds, is once more in the clear sunlight, with the darkness and tempest far beneath. So we may be surrounded with difficulties, discouragement, and darkness. Falsehood, calamity, injustice, shut us in. There are clouds that we cannot dispel. We battle with circumstances in vain. There is one, and but one, way of escape. The mists and fogs cling to the earth; beyond the clouds God’s light is shining. Into the sunlight of His presence we may rise on the wings of faith.” –Education, p. 118–119
TAKE THE WORLD BY STORM
Here is one more lesson we can learn from storms. There is a saying in English, “to take the world by storm.” What does this mean? It means to be suddenly and extremely successful, or popular, sometimes unexpectedly. To win or gain huge widespread success or popularity very rapidly. In a military sense, to conquer or lay siege with a sudden fury. Alexander the Great, in ancient Greece is said to have taken the world by storm. He conquered the world in about 12 years. It was quick, sudden and violent. Just like the prayer of Sharon, the storm comes suddenly and violently, sometimes unexpectedly.
John the Baptist took the world by storm. He suddenly appeared and became very popular—everyone knew about his preaching, it seemed. News spread far and wide quickly. John proclaimed the Messiah who then followed John and even further took the world by storm. His fame went throughout the world without modern media to spread the news—all by word of mouth.
The Apostle Paul, when he was converted, took the world by storm. His unexpected, sudden, change of course in his life mystified his former colleagues and his fame went far and wide as he travelled and preached the Messiah, whom he had previously persecuted.
When storms come, some go and hide away, but we do not need to hide. We are to face the storm with courage. The Lord will see us through any and all storms, and soon enough there will be sunshine again. “Will you not from this very day try to represent Christ to the world? You will have a refuge. You will be sunny Christians. We have been gloomy long enough. Had we not better come out of the cave and stand with God? Then we will have Christ with us so that we can talk of redemption as did the disciples when they had been with Jesus and learned of Him. Carry the light of Jesus. Carry it to your neighbors.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 62
The end of all things is at hand. We are to come out of the cave and take the world by storm with the message of salvation, but be gentle as a shepherd taking care of sheep, or a gardener tending delicate flowers.
We face many spiritual storms in life, sent by the enemy, and we cannot withstand the devil unless we take on the full armour of God and let Him fight our battles. Remember, the battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s. The storms of life may come up on us suddenly, but they cannot defeat us if we are connected with Christ.
Our God is an awesome God. We could talk endlessly of His marvels. Do you believe He has the power to change your heart? Can He enable you to overcome every sinful desire? Can He calm the storm in your heart? The storm in your life? Yes, He can. He is able. It is your faith that is faltering if you do not believe so. Let us pray as did the disciples, “Lord increase our faith.” Luke 17:5. We can move mountains if we have faith as a mustard seed.
A very severe storm will soon come upon this earth when the angels let loose the four winds that they are holding (Revelation 7:1–3). May God help us to trust in Jesus to see us through this storm and bring us to safety in the eternal kingdom when He comes to redeem His own. He will hear and answer all your prayers in some manner as soon as you pray. Sometimes the answer will be in a storm, but other times it may be in a still small voice. The promise is that He will hear, and answer every sincere prayer. Have faith.