Several years ago I shared a two-part series on the storms of life. The first message was called, Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People? The second was, Why Do Good Things Happen To Bad People? (Go back and read that again.) I think most people worry about the second more than the first.
Here’s the reality: JESUS said the rain falls on “the just and the unjust” and God causes “His sun to shine on the evil and on the good” (Matthew 5:45).
In other words, NO ONE is immune from hurt or pain or ... storms. Sooner or later everyone experiences adversity. No matter how hard we try to escape it, no matter how much we try to avoid it, we all face trouble.
Job 5:7 says, “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”
You can try to outrun it. You can try to outsmart it. But you won’t win. In one form or another, trouble comes to every one of us. And sometimes it comes to all of us at the same time, like the coronavirus pandemic.
WHY DO TROUBLES, TRIALS, SUFFERING, SORROW, STORMS (AND VIRUSES) COME?
Job 1:9-12 makes it clear God does not send the storms in our lives, but He does allow them. So if God doesn’t send it, but He allows it, why do the tough times come? Here are some possibilities ...
Some things are simply the result of the inevitabilities of life.
We are members of a fallen race living on a planet in rebellion.
We are victims of an attack from Satan.
We are victims of the bad choices others make.
We are victims of our own bad choices.
Some things simply defy an earthly explanation.
SATAN HAS SPECIFIC PURPOSES IN ATTACKING US.
To get back at God (Job 1:9-12).
To get us to doubt and ultimately deny God.
To take as many people to Hell with him as he possibly can.
To take the joy of Christianity away from Christians.
WHAT ARE GOD’S PURPOSES?
God has purposes we know nothing about (Isaiah 55:8-11).
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, 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 the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
He uses them to spread the Gospel (Philippians 1:12).
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel …”
He uses them to refine and mature us (James 1:2-4).
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
He uses them to display His glory (John 9:3).
“Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’”
Hardship is inevitable, but misery is optional. Our response is a choice. The storms aren’t, but how we respond to them is.
SO HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE STORMS THAT COME TO OUR LIVES?
First of all, know they are coming … to all of us. Maybe not to all of us at the same time, like this current crisis. But they are coming.
Two, understand that hardship is inevitable, but misery is optional. Our response is a choice. The storms aren’t, but how we respond to them is.
Three, realize since storms are coming we need to make adequate preparations.
Four, when the storm hits, hunker down, hold on and hang tough. It won’t last forever.
Five, be honest in assessing the damage and in developing a plan to rebuild, repair and do whatever is necessary.
Six, always keep a perspective of hope. The Bible says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Help is always near.
Seven, pick up the pieces and start over. As long as you and I are still alive, God’s not done with us yet.
Robert Louis Stevenson, in one of his unforgettable stories, related how a ship was being buffeted by a terrible storm. One sailor disobeyed the captain’s order and made his way across the deck to the foredeck and up to the pilot’s wheel. There the pilot had been tied to the mast, lest the fury of the storm sweep him overboard. Lashed to the mast behind him, and with a confident grasp on the wheel in front of him, the pilot turned for a moment and smiled at the frightened sailor. The sailor returned to the fearful crew and assured them that everything was all right. “I have seen the captain’s face and he is smiling.”
JESUS said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
No matter how terrible the storm, our Savior and Captain is always smiling!
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.