As the storm rages outside my apartment, I can’t help but recall an amazing tale of a man from the 1700s. Our pastor has shared this story twice in the three years I’ve been a member of our church. Each time he told it, it was for a different sermon topic and both times left goosebumps on my skin. Although I often forget the name of the man in the tale (having to look it up just to recall), I will never forget the story.
There used to be a man named John Newton. He was the worst kind of sailor you can image. He drank often, cussed as he pleased, visited women in ports, led several into unbelief, and made a living in the slave-trade. He carried the reputation of wicked without a care.
In 1748, him and his crew went out to sea to do a trade run. Far from land they were met by a severe storm. When the storm arrived with great might, Newton stood on the deck in awe at its magnificence. It was in that moment Newton acknowledged the power of God and, when he had the opportunity, wrote a poem:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
Every time a song with this poem in it (because there are many) plays or a storm comes to our little city, I remember this tale. When I was kid, my father and I would stand outside to watch the storm clouds roll above us after a storm warning siren went off. While most sought shelter we would stare at the sky. The magnificence of thunder and the astounding nature of lightning were always fascinating. Now, with this tale in the back of my mind, my love for storms has been renewed. It used to be just a nature thing; today, it is a reminder of how great and powerful our God is.
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.”Proverbs 10:25
Storms can be frightening things in the real world. They can be disruptive, either by shooting down our hopes to be outside after work or by flipping our life upside-down and ripping our property apart. Living in what is known as tornado alley, it isn’t an odd thing to expect a tornado watch when severe weather is predicted. If a tornado warning occurs, life can go from peaceful to intense in an matter of minutes.
In the metaphorical world, storms can be just as ominous. Some may be able to sense the storm as they can feel a nature-driven one coming. Yet, whether one can sense its inevitable presence or not, one cannot know how powerful the storm is going to be. The only One who knows that is God. This is why we need to trust Him when we’re trying to endure these severe weather conditions in our lives. He knows what we’re dealing with, He knows what we can handle, and in due time He will provide a way out to survive.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”1 Corinthians 10:12-13
If Jesus can take a nap, then calm a storm that’s worrying his disciples, He can get you through what you’re facing. If God will protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (or Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, as they were once called) from the flaming furnace that killed their guards and sit with them in a very literal fire before walking them out unsinged, He can rescue you from what ails you. Our God is real. Our God is powerful. Jesus is the King of Kings and not even the devil can stop Him.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”Romans 8:31
So the next time you face a storm, will you see only the clouds and hear only the thunder? Or will you see His mighty power and hear His loving voice say ‘I am with you’?