While tuning in to the morning news today, I was made aware of the wild weather across the United States, with flash floods in the Southwest, damaging storms in the Midwest, and record snow in the East Coast. This unusual pattern of severe weather seems to be the norm lately rather than the exception.
These outbreaks of bad weather are occurring throughout the world with Hurricanes in the Caribbean, Earthquakes in Mexico, and severe flooding in many areas of Australia and Chile.
In other words, storms were in the forefront of the news today.
It’s not just material things that these “storms of life” are damaging. They are affecting all of us, personally, at one time or another. Where ever we look, whether it’s externally or internally, the storms of life are wreaking havoc on the human race.
No one is immune to the storms of life!
For those of you who are reading this blog I’m sure that you can add to this list of storms that are currently happening (or have happened) in your lives: sickness, disease, drug addiction, unemployment, divorce, relationship issues, financial concerns, litigation, and ultimately… death.
Why do these storms of life happen? What is the purpose?
How can we prepare ourselves for the inevitability of these storms?
Is there any way we can be comforted and encouraged in the midst of them?
Let me see if I can help answer these questions for you from the Word of God. In the Gospel of Matthew, during His early ministry, Jesus taught about the central tenants of Christian discipleship and basic truths about Christian living in what was probably His most famous speech, the Sermon on the Mount. In it Jesus taught about the importance of Humility, Love, Obedience, Peace, Charity, Prayer, and keeping a Heavenly perspective on life. But Jesus had a very important message to end the Sermon on the Mount. It was about a House with two Builders. Let me share it with you:
“So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against the house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!” (Matthew: 7: “24-27)
The key difference in the two houses is not their external appearance as they both looked the same from the outside. The key in the story is the foundations. The first house was built on a foundation of rock; a solid foundation. This solid foundation will withstand the rain pouring down, the rivers flooding over, and the wind blowing hard against it….all part of the “storms” of life. The second house had a foundation of sand; a weak foundation. This weak foundation will NOT withstand the rain pouring down, the rivers flooding over, and the wind blowing hard against it.
In the story of the Two House builders, the house that Jesus was referring to was each of us, personally. He was telling us that in order for us to withstand the storms of life, which will most assuredly come our way, we need to have a rock-solid foundation.
What is the key foundation for any house? It’s the cornerstone!
The cornerstone is the stone upon which all the other stones of a house are built upon. The cornerstone for the house built on a foundation of rock is obedience to the Word of God! It is the wise person who hears the words of Jesus and “obeys” them. It is the wise person who puts into practice what the Word of God teaches.
Obedience to God’s Word is not easy. It may cost us friends, relatives, careers, wealth, or even our life. God wants followers who travel the “narrow path” to Heaven; the tough path that comes from obedience to the truth.
Having Jesus as our cornerstone was foretold by David in the Psalms (118: 22), by Jesus Himself in the Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard (Luke 20: 17), and emphasized by Peter is Acts when he was addressing the Jewish Leaders, who had just arrested him. Peter stated:
“Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man (Peter) stands before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 10-11)
Jesus was telling his disciples and the people listening to His Sermon on the Mount that they needed to build (for themselves) a strong foundation built upon Jesus and His Word. This foundation will weather any storm. He stated that if Jesus is not important to you, if you just brush Him off as inconsequential and irrelevant in your lives, you will come to understand that the one whom you “rejected” was in fact the most important person in your life.
How often do we let the cares and storms of this life cause us to lose our focus on making Jesus the cornerstone of everything we do?
To emphasize the fact that Jesus can calm any storm, we are told in the Gospel of Matthew of another event that happened shortly after Jesus spoke about the Two House Builders. It says:
“Jesus got into a boat, and his disciples went with him. Suddenly a fierce storm hit the lake and the boat was in danger of sinking. But Jesus was asleep. The disciples went to him and woke him up. “Save us, Lord!” they said. “We are about to die!” Why are you so frightened?” Jesus answered. “What little faith you have!” Then he got up and ordered the waves to stop, and there was a great calm. Everyone was amazed. “What kind of man is this?” they said. Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27)
Jesus told his disciples and the crowd listening to Him that a house built with a rock-solid foundation, with Jesus as the cornerstone, will withstand any storm. To prove this, Jesus calmed a real storm where the waves and wind were thrashing against the boat. Jesus was in the boat with His disciples and yet they were fearful that the storm would kill them all. What little faith they had. He wanted the disciples to put their faith in Him, regardless of the circumstances.
So why do the storms of life happen to each of us? What is the purpose?
The storms of life happen so that each of us will be dependent on Jesus and His Word to get us through them. Bad things happen to get our attention! I call them wake up calls. God wants us to be dependent upon Him and not on ourselves. When we rely on our human strength to get us through life’s storms, we inevitably fail. We don’t have the strength to withstand them. God never intended for us to have the strength within ourselves to handle these storms. He always intended for us to rely on Him for our strength.
When we don’t rely on Jesus as our cornerstone and His Word for comfort and encouragement, we trust our own self-effort. We are telling God that we don’t need Him and that we can handle it ourselves. Well, the reality is, we can’t. This often leads to drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, and even suicide as a means to escape from the storms that are hitting us. I read an article recently that said that a person commits suicide every 40 seconds. This is the result of trying to cope with life’s storms by our own power. How tragic.
How are you handling the storms in your life? Are you trying to deal with the consequences of ill-health, marital strife, unemployment, drug addiction, bullying, or politics in the workplace with your own effort?
God wants us to come to Him when the storms of life get too heavy for us to handle:
“Come to me all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)
God wants us to trust in Him. He wants us to give Him the “heavy loads” and rest in Him, for the load He will put on us is light. Don’t forget, God is All-Powerful. He is more than capable of handling ANY situation, if only we would trust in Him!
You must have an eternal perspective on things. Remember that life is short and that the storms of life are but a blip on the radar screen of eternity. With Jesus as your cornerstone, we are destined for an eternity of happiness, comfort, and bliss regardless of the hardships we face during our brief lifetime.
Our life is a matter of faith, not of sight!
Perceiving the unseen hand of God behind everything that happens in our lives, we realize that nothing happens by accident. God brings to us the right person, the right circumstances, the right book, or the right job… at the RIGHT time! These happenings we call coincidences are His workings and are never an accident.
God tells us in His Word that the storms we face now are nothing compared to the eternal glory we will experience in Heaven:
“Even though our physical being is gradually decaying yet our spiritual being is being renewed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble (storm) we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory much greater than the trouble.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16-17)
Remember, our storms are temporary. There is a purpose in everything God does. His plan for us is to spend eternity with Him in the never-ending glory of heaven.
How can the storms of life benefit us?
We are told is God’s Word exactly how we are to respond to the troubles (storms) that will come into our lives. In 2 Corinthians 1:3 we are told:
“Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father; the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.”
First of all, we are to thank God for the Storms in our life. How ironic. We are to thank God because the strength we receive during our Storms of life enable us to help others by the same comfort that we received from God during our storms. We receive comfort and stability through obedience to His Word. Storms create shakiness, which forces us to either fall with a weak foundation (not build on Christ as our cornerstone) or stand firm with a solid foundation of Jesus as our cornerstone. Withstanding these storms allows us to help others during their storms with the same help that we receive. It’s that simple!