It’s storm season. You need only turn on CNN or the Weather Channel to see Doppler radar pictures of major systems swirling in from the ocean or footage of the tangled mess of a trailer park swept away by yet another tornado.
Our world has seen its share of disastrous storms in the last few years. Haiti is still rebuilding after the devastating earthquake of 2010. Japan continues to rebuild its infrastructure and economic strength after the2011 tsunami that rolled in off the coast of Japan after what experts called an “undersea megathrust earthquake.” Pakistan has been devastated by heavy monsoon-season flooding in recent years. And who can forget the devastation and continuing aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which ranks among the deadliest storms in United States history?
While it’s easy to pushpin major storms on a world map, it’s often the personal storms many of us weather daily that are the most enduring in our lives. You might be dealing with the thunderclouds of an addiction that loom and threaten by the hour. You might be the battered coastline in a marriage that is on its way to divorce. The floodwaters of your children’s bad choices continue to rise in your household to a point when you’re not sure you can keep your head above water. You may be suffering the tornado-like strike of a tragedy that has shaken your family and faith to their foundations. There’s no money left in the bank account. The course of study you chose is too difficult, and you’re homesick. You think you might be pregnant, and you’re not sure how to tell your classmates. You’ve lost your confidence after losing your job. The cancer has come back.
It’s not easy in the midst of howling winds and hammering rain—physical or personal—to believe that God is firmly in control of everything. For many, however, it is the storms of life that strengthen faith. Author Louisa May Alcott once wrote, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship.” Evangelist Billy Graham said, “Out of defeat can come the best in human nature. As Christians face storms of adversity, they may rise with more beauty. They are like trees that grow on mountain ridges—battered by winds, yet trees in which we find the strongest wood.”
There’s a quotation pinned to my bulletin board that reads, “In our lives there is bound to come some pain, surely as there are storms and falling rain; just believe that the one who holds the storms will bring the sun.” This quotation, the author of which I can’t find, is followed by the words of Psalm 29, which assure us that no matter how bad the storms seem, God’s voice can be heard over the roaring tsunami waves and rising floodwaters.
Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”
The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace. (NLT)
Thomas Fuller once said, “Vows made in storms are forgotten in calm.” It’s easy to forget our dependence on God when the sun comes out and shines on our lives again. God never changes, and our reliance on him and love for him should be unchanging, too!
Ron DeBoer is an educator and writer living near Toronto.