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The Believer’s Response to the Storms of Life

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the prosperity gospel is that its adherents eventually must face the harsh reality that regardless how faithful the believer, there is no a guarantee of an Easy Street address. The examples of Jesus’ Apostles prove that for even the most faithful Christian, life here on earth is often anything but easy. Even today, persecution of Christians is both extensive and on the rise.

Fortunately, most Christians in the West have never faced serious persecution because of their faith – at least not yet. But we all face difficulty of some sort on a regular basis; it’s a fact of life for fallen man, and it’s that fall that is at the root of all our problems. All the storms and hard times in our lives are the result of sin.

You may say, wait a minute, what about Job? The Bible says that Job faced all those terrible things but did not sin. And you’d be right. But consider all those terrible things Job faced – physical ailments, disastrous loss of property, death of his children. None of those things existed before the fall; they all became a part of our lives as a direct result of sin in general, thus it was possible for Job to experience them all without committing a particular sin.

Also consider this:  We often hear statements to the effect that Jesus died to save us from sin. But if you think about it, that’s not technically true. The truth is that Jesus died to save us from the consequences of sin. The primary consequence of sin is full separation from God – spiritual death. But it’s not the only consequence; there are many others. Physical death is a consequence of original sin; before the fall, there was no physical death. The same is true of all those trials and difficulties faced by Job, and of those we face in our lives – all the result of sin.

And therein lies a key truth: The storms we face in this life are consequences of either particular or original sin. Jesus died to spare us from the consequences of sin. So at least in part, Jesus died to give us victory over the troubles of this life.

Our standard reaction when a storm arises in our life is to hunker down and ride it out. “God, I trust you’ll deliver me from this storm, but until you do, I’m going to stay here curled up in a ball, trusting you.” But curling into the fetal position to ride out one of life’s storms isn’t the type of free life God intends for us to live; rather, it’s just another form of bondage.

What a weak, helpless, and miserable way to live. But that’s what we do. In fact, we encourage that behavior in others when we console them – especially after the loss of a loved one. “God will see you through this. Just rest in Him. Your loved one is in a better place, and he never has to feel pain any more.” Yes, there’s consolation in those words. But there’s no victory whatsoever in them, at least not for those left behind.

Even our old hymns are guilty on this front. “I am bound for the Promised Land. When shall I reach that happy place and be forever blest? When shall I see my Savior’s face and in His bosom rest?”

And with this more modern hymn, it is most glaring:

“In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face.”

Why? What is it about the dark of midnight or about the storm howling above that can harm us? Absolutely nothing.

If fear of the storm holds us back, our faith is terribly weak. Yes, our God is strong and will protect us through the storm – but that doesn’t mean that we sit still and wait that storm out. It means that through the Power of Jesus’ resurrection, we can march boldly into the wind and driving rain with the knowledge that He will keep us from harm and will see us through to the end. The wind and the rain should neither deter us nor even slow us down as we run our race. On the contrary, it should encourage us to press on with even more determination.

Which response brings God the most glory – curling into a ball underneath His protective wing while the storm passes over, or continuing our race boldly, running head-up into the wind and rain knowing that victory is assured?

Unfortunately, pressing on is a strength that many will never gain, and a boldness that many will never experience. But it is also a truly liberated, victory-minded, purpose-fulfilling, God-focused life. I’ll take that option, thank you.

For Aaron. God delivered this on the day of your memorial. That was no accident, for I most of all needed to hear it, and saying goodbye prepared me to listen.

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