The first recorded storm comes from the Biblical account of the worldwide flood in Noah’s day. The sign in the sign afterwards proclaimed a promise wrapped up in the first ever rainbow. In Scripture there are a number of rampaging ‘beautiful beasts’ mentioned. Most are associated with sailing. We recall Jonah but forget Jehoshaphat’s wrecked ships at Ezion-geber (1 Kings 21:48).
In the Gospels there are three specific references to storms. Each of them have an application to how our faith is tested and shaped by life’s storms. This is true whether we find ourselves in midst of a furious physical storm, an ethical, emotional or spiritual one.
Storm 1. Is mentioned in a parable by Jesus as He sums up the Beatitudes. We all build our lives on some foundation, which Jesus classed as Rock or Sand. Both lives, depicted as houses, suffer the assault of the ‘beautiful beast’. In both houses fear would have been felt but only one would be destroyed. The life built upon the ‘Rock’ which refers to the Word of God, prevails. That doesn’t mean to say that there wasn’t damage or pain or fear to the life. No! What is being stressed by Jesus is the life is not shattered even though it has been battered.
Storm 2. In the very next chapter 8 in Matthew’s account is a storm. These professional fishermen were unable to cope with its ferocity. A strange picture is presented by a sleeping Jesus in the midst of the boat being swamped. Many of us have found the storm of life smashing into us and our voice being raised “Jesus, wake up!” Why did Jesus ask them what appears to be a silly question? He said “Why are you afraid, of you of little faith?” The implied answer is, no vessel can sink when the Lord is on board, awake or seemingly asleep!
Storm 3. In Matthew 14 is the feeding of the 5,000 men. Afterwards Jesus went up into the mountains to pray. The disciples took to their boat and merrily sailed away with warm and exciting memories. Evening darkness enveloped them and an unexpected ‘beast of a storm’ pounced. But there wasn’t any sleeping Jesus. He was absent. Why didn’t the Lord rush to their aid, for He could see their plight from the heights? How often have we wondered where Jesus is in the midst of our personal dealings with our own ‘beast of a storm.’ Could one of His reasons be to teach us He is able to come to us ‘walking on the water’ for He is the master over the ‘beautiful, ferocious beast.’ As with the fishermen so to with us, our response is a deeper faith and gratitude in Him.
Storm 4. This happened to Paul in Acts 27. Dispatched to Rome to be tried by Caesar the authorities ignored the season’s changing weather situation. It was approaching the time for the Euroclydon (northeaster) to arise and blow. It did! The account shows the magnitude of the storm. Why did they suffer the fear, the loss, the harrowing of those fourteen days? Because of a fateful and rash choice. Why were all on board not killed? Because God had promise years before to Paul he would bear testimony to Jesus before Caesar. Because of that promise all on board the doomed boat were under God’s protection.
The reason for these accounts to be in Scripture is to teach us, warn us and encourage us to cling by faith to Jesus, the Lord over the storm. We live in an unstable world which seems to breed these ‘storms’ of emotional, spiritual, ethical and relational categories. Jesus, through His word, wants us to be faithful in the storm, strong when the ‘beast snarls’ at us to cower us. He also wants us to be merciful when for no reason of our own we are caught up in the storm caused by others. Turn it into a testimony of grace in the name of Jesus.