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Biblical Storms: They Reveal Who Has Faith and Who Does Not.

The Ninevites were the cruelest, most inhuman people that ever walked the planet. They were responsible for the destruction and deportation of the ten northern tribes of Israel. God asked Jonah, the prophet, to go to Nineveh and preach. Jonah protested, saying, “I am not going. I know You. You are slow in anger and rich in compassion. I am not going. I will have no part of their salvation.” So instead of going east to Ninevah, Jonah hopped on a boat with sailors and went west. Once the boat was in the middle of the sea, God stirred up a massive storm.  The sailors were terrified by its intensity. I always enjoy reading the Psalm, which tells us how the sailors went down to the sea in ships and saw the glory and power of God. I know if you were in one of those ancient wooden boats in the middle of the sea surrounded by a hurricane, you, too, would see the majesty and power of God. You probably would not be having a very good time, but you would witness the power and majesty of God.

The sailors agreed to turn to their pagan gods and pray. Yet, the storm grew worse. They met again and came to the conclusion that someone was not praying to his god. They descended to the bottom of the boat and, to their dismay, they found the prophet Jonah sleeping on a cushion. They woke him up and asked him why he was not praying. He told them that God was mad at him because he did not do what he was asked. So, all the sailors turned to the God of Jonah and prayed. Jonah told them to cast him into the sea, and they would please God. They hesitated, but in the end, they did as God wanted, and the sailors were saved. While Jonah was in the middle of the sea, God sent a water taxi–a whale-to bring Jonah to shore. When the whale arrived at the coast, he discharged the prophet. Actually, the work in the Bible is vomit. Jonah must have made the fish sick to its stomach.

Here is my question: Why did God have to use a storm? What is the point of the storm? To show who had faith and who did not. As it turns out, the pagan sailors had faith in God, and the Israelite prophet did not. Faith is hidden inside of us. You cannot see it. It is only visible in the storms of life.

In the Gospel, there is another storm at sea. Again, the purpose of the storm is to expose who is strong in character and faithful and who is not. In this story, the roles have now been reversed. It is the guy sleeping on the cushion Who is faithful and strong in character and the sailors who are not. You would think the disciples would have great faith. They had just seen a possessed man freed from the shackles of a demon. They just witnessed a whole village of sick people who were cured by Jesus. They just watched a paralyzed man return home carrying his bed. You would think they would have had faith, but the storm exposed them. One would think that they would have had faith, but the storms never lie. They have no faith.

After high school, I worked for my father for a year before entering the seminary. During that time, we built many forms and poured footings for homes. A footing is a concrete slab that holds the foundation in place. You cannot see our work because it is buried under the house. The only time anyone notices the house’s footings is when there is a major storm, and the house is not floating down Main Street.

The lesson here is this: our Christian job is to show the world our faith. The only time they will be able to see our faith is in the storms of life and in the difficult times. When times are hard, we have great opportunity. These are our finest moments and the hour to shine. That is when we can show the world true faith. The purpose of storms is to reveal those who have faith and those who do not.

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