Jonah 1:1–4 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.In the historical account of Jonah we see that God will at times send storms. When viewed from a distance, we awe at the amazing power of storms, earthquakes, and fires. In Psalm 107 beginning in verse 23 we read “they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.” When we are personally in the midst of a storm whether it be literally or figuratively, our awe turns into great fear and as the Bible states, we can feel as if we are at our wits’ end. These storms are sometimes sent by God into our lives as we see with Jonah, and other times they are allowed by God as we see in the account of Job where Satan brings various trials into his life. The scriptures are affirmative that God is sovereign over the universe, but why would a loving God allow His creation to go through difficult storms? Sometimes it is just the course of nature effected by the curse of sin. Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Yet there are times that God for specific reasons brings storms into our life.
Throughout the scriptures there is abundance of evidence that God often brings storms or plagues as an act of judgment upon wicked nations (Sodom, Gomorrah, Egypt) and individuals (Herod being eaten of worms, Acts 12:23). God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalm 75:7) The proper response to warnings of judgment would be to repent like Nineveh did and place your faith in the Lord for salvation. Jesus Christ through his death, burial, and resurrection gave us the power to become children of God and to provide deliverance for us from His wrath upon the wicked.
With Jonah we see an example of how disobedience always leads us into troubled waters. When you run away from the Lord, you never get to where you are going, and you always pay your own fare. The Bible says that “the way of transgressors is hard.” On the other hand, when you go the Lord’s way, you always get to where you are going, and He pays the fare. The mariners found Jonah fast asleep during the turmoil of the storm. When you’re running from God, it will wear you out more than it will walking with Him. In God’s mercy, He sent a whale to swallow Jonah to preserve his life and bring him to shore. How much easier it would have been for Jonah if he had just said yes to the Lord’s command to go preach in Nineveh. Nevertheless, God will use chastening to draw us back to Him, and bring us in accordance with his will because He loves us.
Hebrews 12:6, 9-11 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.If you are currently facing a storm in your life, ask the Lord to reveal if it’s because of His loving chastisement. It may not be, but it just might be. Pray with the mindset David had when he wrote Psalm 139:23–24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” God does not mean us ill but chastens us for our wellbeing.
Proverbs 3:11–12 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.To Grow Us and Show His Glory
Just because we are in the midst of a storm does not mean we are facing the judgment or chastening of God. In life there will be difficulties and troubles to the best of people. But why? Questions of why have been asked for centuries. Even Jesus’ disciples asked him “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” supposing someone was at fault for this hardship. Jesus answered, “neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” and then Jesus healed the man of his blindness (John 9). Sometimes God places storms in our life that Christ might be glorified through us. God described Job as a man who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” and yet he loss his cattle, servants, even his children, and became severely ill. Most of us probably would sink into depression and question the goodness of God. Job grieved, but through this great storm he sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job’s response was to continue to worship God and said “naked came I out of my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:20-21). After going through even more trials he retained this attitude and said of the Lord “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15). Job was able to cope with the trials of life because he understood that His God was sovereign and the supreme caregiver.
Jonah faced a fierce storm because of disobedience, the apostle Paul on the other hand endured many storms of life because he was faithful to the Lord even in the face of persecution. Jesus even said to Ananias regarding Paul “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Paul ended up later writing to Timothy “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter wrote in his first epistle “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
When Jonathan Edwards, the great pastor and theologian died unexpectedly from a smallpox vaccination, his wife wrote these words, “What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it...but my God lives; and he has my heart...we are all given to God.”
James 1:2–5 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.Are you facing a storm in your life? Ask the Lord if He’s chastening you for sin and if so, repent and draw nigh unto the Lord. If it’s not chastisement, then rest content that God is allowing you to suffer to show forth his praise and glory. Rather than doubt the goodness of God, remember the proclamation in Genesis 18:25 “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Be of good courage throughout the battles of life. Historian Mark Brinsley wrote:
A battlefield is a deadly place, even for generals; and it would be naive to suppose (Stonewall) Jackson never felt the animal fear of all beings exposed to wounds and death. But invariably he displayed extraordinary calm under fire, a calm too deep and masterful to be mere pretense. His apparent obliviousness to danger attracted notice, and after the first Manassas battle someone asked him how he managed it.
Stonewall Jackson replied “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God knows the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter where it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”The same Lord who is sovereign to bring storms into your life is the same Lord who is sovereign to calm the storms. If He chooses not to calm the storm, and you're right with the Lord, be at peace knowing that He is in the midst of the storm with you.
Matthew 8:25–27 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 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. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!