As we scan the horizon, we see nothing but more ominous dark clouds gathering. Another storm approaches. There have been many storms lately — too many. Too many illnesses, and too many financial problems. Too much stress and weariness and grief. Too many loved ones departing this life and leaving us lonely, heartbroken, and destitute.
The Psalmist is urgent in his cries: “Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord (Psalm 44:23)?” At times like this it seems as if God is a million miles away while we suffer here on Earth.
Our eyes remain fixed on the clouds around us. We focus on the distant rumblings of more troubles on the way. We cringe and cower as we anticipate the next blow to come. The Psalmist desperately announces the obvious, “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter (Psalm 44:22)!” And still the winds howl and the storms rage. Our situation seems desperate and hopeless. We have weathered many storms, but all we can look forward to, it seems, is more of the same. Giving up on God actually crosses our mind.
Suddenly, the apostle Paul sees our plight and begins to speak: “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
“Of course we’re like sheep about to be slaughtered,” we cry, “that’s what the Psalmist said as well! Look at all of the problems that keep coming our way!”
Paul, as if he didn’t fully hear us, continues: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).”
Our eyes turn back to the storm clouds. The words of Paul still ring in our ears: “In all these things we are more than conquerors.” Suddenly, we remember who we are. We’re not reeds to be shaken by the wind (Matt 11:7), we’re a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)! Jesus died in our place, and in His love we live and conquer all the storms of life! All at once something else Paul said comes back to us: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).” The storm clouds continue to gather and rumble, but because of Paul’s words we take renewed confidence in our Shelter — the Son of God.
You see, storms say an awful lot about our relationship with God. Being in a covenant relationship with God has never eliminated suffering, but our relationship with Him does give us strength to overcome: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).” Sometimes God seems to be asleep (Psalm 44:23) that we might be awakened spiritually. It seems that God is ignorant of our plight when really it is our own faith that is weak: “Master, carest Thou not that we perish (Mark 4:38)?” What about you? How are you responding to the storms in your life? — John Baker