Followers of Jesus are no strangers to storms! They struggle with illness and disease, disability, hardship, discouragement, and every other affliction that is known to man. Belonging to Christ does not grant them immunity or exemption from any of these (though you wouldn’t always get that impression by listening to some of our prayers). There may be no atheists in foxholes, but cancer units are filled with believers as well as unbelievers. Hurricanes and tsunamis strike those who are disciples as well as those who aren’t.
So we can mark it down that storms are inevitable. Therefore, if our expectation in life is to avoid all storms, we will be disappointed. The impression that life in Christ is supposed to be one unbroken line of sweetness doesn’t come from Scripture! Paul told those who were following Christ in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times,” (Acts 14:22 – The Message). When he said this, he was doing more that sharing theology, he was speaking from experience (Acts 14:19-20; see also Galatians 6:19). Our storms may be different than someone else’s, but we will have them.
While Jesus doesn’t promise freedom from the storm, He does promise shelter during the storm (Matthew 7:24-29). In doing so, He introduces a danger that is greater than the false prophets He had been speaking about (7:15ff). What could be more dangerous than spiritual predators?
The answer is in the mirror. The greatest danger is not deception by others, it is deception by self. Specifically, it is to deceive ourselves into thinking that we can be followers of Jesus by merely hearing His words and not heeding them. Doing this is like building our lives on sand. Anyone who has ever stood on the beach has experienced the sand wash out from under your feet as the waves lap in. Imagine building a house (or a life) on that kind of foundation. When bad weather arrives, what you have built up will not hold up. It is destined to crumble and disintegrate.
But for the person who hears and heeds Jesus words, it is like building on a rock. The storm comes, the rain beats down, the floodwaters rage and decimate, the winds howl and destroy, tough times come – but the believer stands! And while is God alone who ultimately enables him to stand (Romans 14:4), his heeding was the means by which God accomplished it. We stand in the storm! These things aren’t permitted to have the final word because we belong to God! We have nothing less than the authority of Christ behind this (Matthew 7:28-29). But there’s more (and this is moving beyond the point Jesus is making in Matthew 7). The One who can put an irritant in an oyster and created a pearl, or put a piece of coal under pressure and made a diamond, is fully able to help us not only stand but be strengthened by our storms. Paul speaks of his storms as “light and momentary troubles (that) are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” (2 Corinthians 4:17). In another place he writes of how “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” (Romans 8:28).
All of this is good news! There is nothing more powerful than God. He acts for the benefit of the believer. Nothing can successfully oppose Him. He is in ultimate control—not circumstances, situations, or events. No child of His ever loses their battle with a disease, an infirmity or a disability when they die—they’ve won! I don’t care what it looks like—appearances aren’t the last word either (2 Corinthians 4:16). No disciple goes down to the grave a loser—it simply cannot happen. The same God who brought Jesus back from the dead will not allow it to happen.
It takes faith to believe all this—the same faith that enables us to pick up our tools and begin building on Jesus.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:38-39).