What is the Purpose of the Storm?

by Karen Sargent

One day, I had a vision of something like these trees.

Immediately knew I was a tree. To me the storm was negative, an affliction. A quick conversation with God took place in my head. I could feel the wind and the rain of this hurricane, and I thought. “I’m dying over here. What are you doing? “

In the next few minutes a powerful interaction took place that showed me the purpose for the storms of life. These questions popped up. “Is the rain bad?” Of course the answer is no, the tree needs the water. The next question was “Is the tree starving?” That would be another no. The nutrients are released easily when the soil is wet and the roots would soak them up. Even knowing that, still my reply was another question.

So I asked, “What’s with all the wind?” Instantly I knew that because it was uncomfortable for me,  I was labeling the storm as a bad thing. 

Inside I sensed that wasn’t how God saw it. He showed me his provision in the wind and weather, and that I wasn’t alone in the storm. He was always with me, caring for me in the middle of it. 

I was reminded of this song called “Oh, How He Loves Us”. The words really touch me. Here are some of the lyrics. 

He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

… And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us all.

Have you ever wondered about the storms of life?

We all have them, but why? Jesus went through some storms. Let’s look at his example. Remember Matthew 8:23-27?  

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Who are you more like?

When we face the wind and the waves, who are we most like, Jesus or the disciples? Most of us probably think like the disciples, and ask questions like “What are you doing?” and “Don’t you care?” Certainly they seem like good questions, but they also show your focus. We shy away from anything uncomfortable, like storms. The song says He “Loves like a hurricane”. I remember thinking ,”What kind of love is that?” If you think that doesn’t feel like love it’s because we associate pleasure with love. We would rather have the warm fuzzies, than the hard lessons.

A missing ingredient

What ingredient are we often missing when forming our opinion of the tests of life? In thinking about the hurricane winds, and that vision of the trees, I was reminded of an article that I read years ago that opened my eyes to the purpose of the storms.

A group created the Biosphere 2 which was a self- contained replica of the environment on earth. They did this experiment to study ecology, and designed this dome to learn about the earth. Eight people lived in it for 2 years and equipped it with all that we need to live.

This model ensured the air quality and circulation. In their own version of  the water cycle it rained. It was complete with simulated sunshine, and the soil was rich for growing crops. People were living in this biosphere and they were growing their own food, and raising animals. All in all the pictures were beautiful. You could see green gardens and healthy animals.

But despite the many successes they had, there was one thing missing that stood out to me. There were no trees. I learned that they had grown saplings, but after they got to a certain height the little trees just flopped over. Do you know why? The designers had forgotten to provide a key ingredient for the trees, wind. 

They didn’t realize that trees need the wind and pressure to grow stronger. Basically, the only way they develop sturdy trunks and healthy roots is when they resist the wind.

I was still in this conversation with God, and He pointed out that this concept has been used in other places too. We do resistance training when we want to build muscle. That’s why trainers recommend lifting weights to develop the human body as well.

Spiritual training in the storms of life

This idea of resistance training can also be applied to our spiritual life. In reality the Bible tells us that we need a kind of resistance training to build our faith. We don’t want weak or flabby faith, so God provides the resistance. It’s our faith that is getting the workout in the storms of life. God provides opportunities in the storms to exercise our faith. 

When we submit to His ways we do what the song says, and bend beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. To get stronger, we learn to bend beneath the issues and lift the weight of the burden. That means we bend our knees in prayer, and bow our will to His. Our lifting could involve raising our eyes to look at Him, or raising our hands in worship.

The problem is our perspective about discomfort. Often we have been mislabeling the storm as something that is bad, that needs to go away. It could be God’s provision, certainly it’s an opportunity to grow. But because it’s painful, we want it to skip it.

The purpose of the hurricanes we face

So here’s what He showed me. We are like the trees and when we are in a storm, He is giving us everything we need to succeed. If we were a tree, it would be the water to sustain life, and release the nutrients in the soil. If you’re like me you’re thinking, ”what’s with the wind?” or “I’m dying over here”. But no, really we’re getting stretched so our roots will grow deeper. We’ll be able to get more from our source and have a better anchor.

The wind is necessary for our development

Many times we aren’t ready for what is coming, so these trials and tribulations can be useful in preparing us for what lies ahead. James 1:4 tells us to count it all joy when we face trials. If we can remember that it’s our faith that is being tested and strengthened through the tempest, maybe we won’t be so quick to avoid the discomfort. Everything changes when we ask a different question.

That means a key to growth is to ask the better questions to find out what the message of the disturbance is. Have we asked what the lesson the hurricane can teach us? Have we dug in deep instead of avoiding the pain? Is God our foundation? Can we trust His plan? Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan and it’s perfect

After all, He knows the end from the beginning. So, all of it has a purpose. Sure the gentle winds and the windy kite flying days are more enjoyable. But it’s all preparation for the hurricane. That is the test of our core. Will we bend?  Or will we resist and break? Will we lose hold of our roots and fall over? Or will we grow more deeply rooted in Him? What if we learn to bend some and know when to hold on and use our core strength? Are we going to get the full benefit of the trial God has given us? If we do, we will we grow stronger, dig in deeper, and come out standing tall.

In conclusion, look at Jesus, our example. He slept in the storm. He knew when to rest and when to stand. He knew his identity and his authority. When we know who we are in Christ, and the authority we have, we will look at the storm differently too. Most importantly remember Who is with you through it all.

Here’s the link to the David Crowder Band’s version of How He Loves Us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyedxYR05Es

How He Loves lyrics © Integrity’s Hosanna Music

Songwriter: John Mark McMillan

The Biosphere 2 opened in 1991 in Arizona, and is now run by the University of Arizona. It had many operational problems, including the oxygen level in the air. They have solved the problem of the wind and have expanded.