Speaking of storms, I heard Pastor Mark Conner speak on this, which I found quite helpful.
There are basically three types:
- Self-generated storms.
These are mainly consequences of our own unwise decisions, either from ignorance or wilful choices. We can respond in a number of ways:
1. Denial and/or blame-shifting, which only makes the problem worse. e.g. “The Devil made me do it!” “I had a horrible upbringing! ” etc.
2. Passive acknowledgement, where we admit we were at fault, we take the rap but don't do anything about it. I think they call that “Apathy.”
3. Guilt and remorse. This may be a religious or a well-meaning conscientious response, but it often leads to depression, penance -- even self-harm and other weird things.
4. A healthy sense of Conviction (very different from merely feeling guilty, although our guilt must be acknowledged of course) that leads to repentance i.e. a change of heart, a change of direction -- even putting things right if possible.
The final stroke that breaks the yoke is accepting God’s forgiveness, and forgiving one’s self. That doesn't necessarily mean that the storm will go away, because consequences are consequences no matter how repentant we are.
But then there's God's mercy…..
- Hostile storms from the Enemy.
Let’s face it, the Devil wants to kill, steal & destroy us. It doesn't matter whether we are a threat to him or not -- he hates us anyway -- even if we're doing his bidding.
So how do we respond?
1. We can become intimidated and shrink back into our prisons again, or run and hide (which is the same thing). And who hasn't done that at least once?
The road to courage isn't that easy for any soldier. The Duke of Wellington used to say that even his best troops will occasionally run away. He understood that, as long as they formed rank again, ready to advance for another crack at the enemy. And as we know, Wellington defeated Napoleon with these very same troops.
2. We can recognize that the enemy has no real power except the power of lies, and then we can make a stand (Eph 6:10,11 and onwards).
3. We can also take the offensive (Eph 6:17,18), and take back what the enemy has stolen.
- Storms sent from God.
It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens!
“But wait a minute,” I hear you say, “Isn't God too loving and forgiving to do that?”
God is certainly loving and forgiving -- way beyond our understanding. But He is also the ultimate judge, way beyond our understanding. He knows what He's doing even when we can't see it. And He has feelings too.
His storms are mostly sent with a purpose: to make us come to our senses, realize how pathetic we are in comparison to Him, or even the forces of nature which only hint at His might.
Sometimes He sends His storms, or even makes use of other storms to remove the works of the enemy. God is not going to let the enemy have a field day forever, even if we consent to it. He didn’t sit back and let mankind destroy itself in the past. This includes, to be brutally honest, eternal consequences on those who are totally committed to doing Satan’s works. Even Jesus didn’t mince His words:
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
If we reject God’s solution to our hopeless state, what have we got left?
How can we tell if that’s the case?
I don’t know. God is judge regarding that, not me -- nor anyone else for that matter. Let’s not waste our time telling God what He should or shouldn’t do.
Sometimes His storms will take away things or even people we hold dear.
How do we respond to that one?
I don't want to trivialize that in the least. I don't have all the answers. But I’ve seen some amazing and wonderful changes that have come out of these hard times, when the sufferer has responded well to it. A whole book of the bible was written about this issue.
As someone once said, these things will make us either “bitter” or “better”.
How many of us have stumbled and blamed God when hard times come (often when it hasn't been a God-sent storm), and have lost our usefulness in the Kingdom of God -- until we come to our senses of course.
I want to reiterate, I know there are some of you out there that have suffered much more than I’ll ever know. I want to acknowledge that. But this topic needs to be brought to the light by somebody, so wounds can be recognised and treated. Otherwise these will fester in many people’s hearts.
I want to close with one true story.
A man lost his young son, who tragically died. In the intensity of his grief, he raged against God: “Where were You when my son died??”
Then God replied: “In the same place when My Own Son died.”
He knows what it’s like.