Charles Stanley - Life's Passing Storms
Storms come and go in our life. Usually, it's not any fun. In fact, storms usually bring pain and suffering and loss of all kinds. In spite of all the questions we have, there is a verse of Scripture in the Bible that is the underlying foundation for our belief, and here's what it says. In Psalm hundred and three, nineteen, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all". That settles a lot of questions, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty". His control always rules over all.
So, probably you've had questions sometimes when storms come your way and you think, "Where is God? What are You up to in my life? God, did You cause this"? Or you ask yourself the question, "Did I cause it? Who is responsible? Lord, You know the pain I feel, You know the loss I feel. What's this all about"? And so, there are some answers to those questions of why God does what He does. And so, I want us to look at a passage of Scripture that gives us an example of pain as a result of storm. And if you will turn to the hundred and seventh Psalm, hundred and seventh Psalm.
And I want us to look at this passage for a moment because all of us have questions about storms, things that we go through. And we'll talk about the different kind of storms shortly, but listen to this beginning in verse twenty-three of the hundred and seventh Psalm, "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters". Talking about people, for example, who labor on the sea with cargo and so forth, "They have seen the works of the Lord".
Now that's what the psalmist calls storms. Listen to this, "And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind". In case you're wondering where some of them come from, which lift... Listen to this, "For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths". What's is a beautiful way of talking about high storm, high waves, low waves. Listen, and when that happened, their soul melted away in their misery, the sailors. "They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits' end. Then, scared to death, thought this was the end", the Bible says, "they cried out to the Lord in their trouble".
That's always the wisest thing to do when you're in trouble, "And He brought them out of their distresses". Hallelujah! "He caused the storm to be still". Praise the Lord! "So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and all His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him at the seat of the elders".
That is, think about this. The question is, "Is God in storms? Is He or is He not"? Well, some of you think He is. Do you think God is in the storms? Do you think the Bible says God is in the storms? Well, some of you are still not convinced. I'll give you three opportunities to respond correctly. Sure He's in the storm. Listen to what he says, "For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind". God is in storms. Not always in the same way. All storms are not necessarily of God. Some storms we create, some storms God create, and some storms are just naturally created.
So when people say, "Do you think God is in these storms"? You can say, "Yes, I do". They say, "Well, how do you explain that"? Because, usually they're thinking about somebody's lost their life and they want to accuse you of being foolish by believing that a loving God would do something like that. And so, people want to trick us as Christians and say, "Well, you folks just believe that God's in all of this"? In some way, He's in everything. And so, I want us to look at this passage of Scripture and see what God is saying to us here. But whatever storm comes, He's in control. If it's a storm that you have created for yourself, He's still in control. If it's a storm He's created, He's still in control.
God is not out of the storm business. Unbelievers would like for us to think God has nothing to do with any storm, that's just you Christians being a little naive. A real, true God would not allow these things to happen and certainly would not allow somebody to lose their life. Well, I'm coming to all that. So, people want to give us a very strong unbelieving answer, want to leave God out of anything and everything, especially if they can't control it. If they can't control it, don't let God get into this because they know they can't control Him.
So, I want us to think about that. There are three kinds of storms. There are those natural storms of hurricanes and floods and tornadoes and so forth that come our way, or even big rain storms. And then, there are emotional storms. And, now emotional storms, I believe, are far worse than the physical storms because it grinds at the heart, at the soul, at the very center of your life, feeling rejected, and oftentimes being rejected by somebody or maybe a group of people, whatever it might be.
So, these storms are very difficult to deal with. Whether it's a natural storm or an emotional storm. But most of all what I want to talk about is spiritual storms. We create spiritual storms in our life by disobeying God. When we reject Him, disobey Him, choose our own way, do it our own way in our own timing, there's a storm and here's the reason for the storm. Let's say that you're a believer. You've trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior. The moment you did that, the Holy Spirit who convicted you to become a Christian enters your life and He is there sent by Holy God to live in us, to guide us, to lead us.
And the Bible tells us all the works of the Holy Spirit within us. One of those works is to convict us of sin. So when a believer deliberately willfully sins against God, listen, this little wind begins to be a torrential storm. It's a storm between you and your God. You have chosen to be disobedient to God, to walk in your own ways. You've chosen to get out of His will. That means you're on your own. That means your conduct, your conversation and character all changes and you and God have a huge storm brewing in your life. And so, what do people do? They either drink, or they take a bunch of pills, and especially do they always blame somebody else.
So, the storms we create within ourselves are hellish kind of storms, because there doesn't seem to be a very quick answer, and especially if we think somebody else is at fault. If we can blame somebody else, the storm gets worse. Storms are a part of life. It can be a light storm. It can be just a temptation that you have or whatever it might be. But they come. Either they're instituted by God, we bring them by ourselves, or they're of the devil, all kind of storms. And so, when I think about the sources of them, I think about storms that we create for ourselves, and that's deliberate willful disobedience to God starts a storm.
As we said the Holy Spirit does what? He begins to cause us to feel afraid, oftentimes, separated from God, distant from God, and our whole spiritual being gets warped. And we don't know where we are at times, and we're wondering and fretting and blaming and become useless, and oftentimes a bad testimony. So, that's oftentimes what happens to us. And then, when Satan creates them and he is the instigator of a lot of storms.
So, I want to give you an example. Let me give you an example of how the devil works. Turn to Second Samuel, chapter eleven for a moment. And this is a story you have either read or heard, maybe even seen a movie about it. But in the eleventh chapter of Second Samuel, the Scripture says this, beginning in verse one, "Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at home in Jerusalem".
Now, where should he have been? Out in the war beside his valiant soldiers. He decided to stay at home. Watch this now. You listening carefully? That's not very good. Are you listening? Say amen. When you get out of God's will, you're already in trouble. Now watch what happens. He stayed at home, "Now, when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing". So, she must have been partly naked, "and the woman was very beautiful in appearance".
The storm just began. When he looked, and he kept looking till a look became lust, and lust became a longing within him. The next thing you know, he's in trouble. Satan is an originator of storms. This is why you have to be careful what you look at, who you look at, why you look at, what you want, what you see. And the Scripture says, "So, David sent and inquired about the woman". He could have stopped at any time, but he didn't. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite"? He was out there fighting for him. David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her, and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. Too late. The woman conceived, and she sent and told David, and said, "I am pregnant".
Let me tell you something. Satan is the instigator of storms, all kind of storms. David would have told you that would never happen to him being the king. But at the right place, said this, the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong thoughts, the wrong look and, listen, and the power to fulfill his lust, he began actions that lasted him the rest of his life. David and Bathsheba. We cause our own storms, the devil causes storms in our life, and sometimes God sends a storm in our life. So, sometimes God sends a storm in our life to chastise us to do what. And He certainly sent one into David's life. To chastise us, to get our attention, and to get our protection lest we absolutely destroy ourselves. God does send storms into our life. You know why? Because He loves us. He never sends one that is not backed by love ultimately.
So, when you think about the storms in your life, let's think about why He allows them. And I think the first reason is because it takes a storm sometime to get our attention. God may knock on your heart's door. He may bring something to your attention. In your prayer he may try to get your attention and so you don't pay any attention to it and oftentimes He has to act beyond that. So one of his primary purposes, one of the things He does He sends a storm into our life. God allows storms to get our attention, listen to this, because He loves us. Have I always done everything God said? No. Have I gotten reproof for it? Yes, I have. Because God, listen to this. You listening? Say amen.
God does not play favorites. He doesn't play favorites. We disobey Him, we can expect the results of disobedience from a loving God. That's the way He operates. So, He gets our attention. Therefore, He wants to prevent us from destroying ourselves or somebody else or causing more trouble. A second reason He sends storms into our life is, to get us to repent. And I think about the best example of that is the book of Jonah. So, look at this. God called him and he left his home, left God. Got on a ship, was going to leave God. Went asleep, going to leave God. Storm comes. Finally, he has to confess up, it's my fault. God hadn't left him.
Let me tell you something. You can't get any further away from God than Jonah did, no matter who you are, what you believe, what you think, what you don't believe, you cannot run from eternal God because every single place and person is in the presence of God. And I think some people who say, "Well, I just don't believe in it". Listen. That doesn't mean, because you don't believe in it, that you've eliminated God. You haven't changed one verse of Scripture by not believing in God. But what I want you to see is, your belief does not, watch this, your belief does not affect whether God does or does not send judgement upon you for disobeying Him, and living in sin. Jonah knew he was living in sin. He tried his very best. Cost him a lot of money, take that trip.
And so what happens? He's in the belly of a whale. And then what happens? I love this story. It's a simple story. The whale vomited him up. And the Scripture says he went to Nineveh and preached the Word of God, they had a bigger revival and God saved the Ninevites. And then, look at this. Jonah's attitude still wasn't right. Because God had, God had to chastise him afterwards I think about what he was arguing about was, they were getting right with God and he didn't like that.
Can you imagine being so messed up in your life, to be obedient to God, and then you didn't like the result because it wasn't what you wanted. People get in to all kinds of trouble because they don't want to obey Almighty God. And so, sometimes the storm brings us to repentance. If you and I knew how many people come to God as a result of a storm in our life, in their life, we would be shocked probably. How many times have I heard testimonies? Well, I just didn't have time for God and then thus and so happened. Found out that I had cancer. I found out that my son and my daughter had it or, had a wreck or lost their life. In other words, whatever it takes.
Let me just put it this way. God loves you enough to send a storm that is very, very painful if necessary in order to get our attention, in order to help us to come to Him and be obedient to Him. So a third reason He allows storms is to conform us to His image. That is, God wants to do whatever, and whatever is brokenness. In other words, God is willing to break us, and cause suffering, and heartache, and pain in our life to bring us to Himself. There're people on the mission field, people preaching in the Gospel, preaching the Gospel every Sunday today all over the world who came to the Lord as a result of brokenness. Running from God. And how many times I heard testimonies from pastors who did not want to preach, who absolutely refused the call of God and then God brought up enough storms into their life, they did surrender to Him.
So God is in storms for purposes that are for His glory. Then of course, He wants to equip us for His service. And sometimes we go through hurt and suffering, and pain in order to be equipped to do what God calls us to do. And I think there're probably nurses and doctors, and pastors, and many other people that are doing what they're doing in a way that blesses others. They're helpful to others as a result of God bringing them through brokenness. Brokenness says I can't stand anymore of this pain, God. Whatever you want, the answer is yes. And the truth is, that's where He wants all of us at some point in our life so He can use us to the maximum of our potential.
Then sometimes He wants to demonstrate His power in our life. In other words, we, we are saved, we know we are but God wants, He wants to bring us to Himself in such a way that we understand who He is and what He's doing and sometimes He lets us suffer a while. And then brings forth healing, whatever it might be. But He gives us enough to let us hurt a while until we are finally willing to say, "Yes, Lord". And oftentimes it is at the end of that He begins to use a person in their life like they've never been used before. I don't mean necessarily preaching the Gospel, but to use you as a witness wherever you work, wherever you live, whoever you live with, whatever it might be. God has a purpose in allowing the storms in our life whatever they may be. And naturally one of them is to reveal Himself to us.
I can think about times in my life when I've been through storms and seeking the Lord and asking God to show me this or whatever it might be that I get a new glimpse, a little different glimpse. A different perspective even on how God thinks about things. And one thing about living a pretty good while you learn things by experience you don't learn early in life. And so, sometimes he wants to reveal Himself to us, give us understanding of who He is. God knows how to take storms in our life and do something good for us, if we're willing to listen to Him. And willing not to give up and not to criticize Him and blame God.
When you start blaming God, here's what happens. You separate yourself from Him emotionally and spiritually, not that He leaves you but if you blame God you withdraw yourself from the very source of the one who loves you, who provides for you, who will save you in the storm, who will strengthen you, who will make you a better person. You don't withdraw from God in the storm. And I think all of us who'd been through difficult times when we look back and see what God did, not what we did, not somebody else did but God did in our life, and how He brought us through it. Because God is a loving God and just because there's storm in your life it doesn't mean that God has deserted you. It doesn't mean that God is punishing you. It means that He has something in mind.
Whatever the reason, watch this. Whatever the reason is, God's purpose is always for our good. Always to do something in our behalf that makes us a better person, brings us close to Him, demonstrates His power, shows His love for us. So storms have a purpose from God's perspective. And some of the worst storms, very evident that God is them because of the results of what happens. Then, somebody says, "Well, that's hard for me to believe that God demonstrates His love in a storm".
So, I want you to turn to the fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. Because there's sometimes people say, "Well, if God was a God of love, He would never let this happen". The fifty fifth chapter of Isaiah and the eighth verse, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts," that is, I don't think the way you do. "Nor are My ways your ways". We, we don't act the same. "Declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there with, without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater. So will my word be which goes forth from My mouth, It will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without it succeeding in the matter for which I sent it".
And so, God is in the midst of the storm, whatever is going on. And when it comes to why certain things happen, Isaiah fifty-five is a very simple, profound answer from the Word of God. So, He demonstrates His love even in difficult times. And then, I think one of the primary reasons is this. He reminds us of who is in control. God is in control. And I'm simply saying He doesn't make mistakes. It isn't because God doesn't love us. It isn't because He thinks that we don't deserve better. In other words, God allows them for a purpose.
You say, "What's the purpose about this, that and the other"? I don't claim to have that kind of knowledge. Nobody does but God. But listen. When you're a believer following the Lord, nothing happens in your life without God's permissive will and always with a purpose to strengthen us, to bless us, to prepare us, to equip us, to express love toward us, whatever it might be, God always has a loving motive in mind. So, that's a very simple message. I wanted to be simple. Because the next time somebody says to you, "Well, if God is a God of love... hmm, hmm, hmm". You can say to them, "Yes, He is. He loved you enough that you could wake up this morning". And so, oftentimes people who judge God, they don't know Him. And you as a believer, as long as you understand who God is and how He operates, that's what matters. Amen?
Father we just ask you this morning for storms that have come, for storms that will come that You'll remind us that You're in complete control and that we can trust You. That we can believe that you always have our best interest at heart. Show us how to love and to be willing to understand people who don't understand you. And we pray that people are being saved and lives are being changed. And that people are turning to you who would not otherwise. You got their attention. Thank you for loving us and being patient with us and we pray this in Jesus' name.