God's Purpose in the Storm

By Charles Stanley


Violent storms have devastated our world in recent times. Tragic images of destruction flowed across your television screen and mine. As I watched the news reports with sadness and compassion, I was reminded of other storms -- the quieter storms that trouble people in their everyday lives. These trials may bring no rain or winds but the danger is just as great. What is God's purpose in personal storms?

This subject quickly brings to mind the familiar words of Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." These powerful words are misunderstood and misquoted when people claim that "everything works for good." It does not! Almighty God causes everything to work together for good, for those who love Him. Therefore it is very important how you and I respond to the circumstances we face.

What about you, my friend? How do you behave during the storms of life that have nothing to do with weather?

Key Passage: Romans 8:28-29

Supporting Scripture:
Psalm 119:67,71
Psalm 57:1
2 Corinthians 1:4
2 Corinthians 12:9

Scriptural Principles:

1 God commands our attention through cleansing. Six simple words help us understand God's purposes for the storms of life. The first is cleansing. God oftentimes sends the storms when you and I are not walking in His will. If you are rebelling against His plan for you, then you can count on the coming of some kind of storm. The psalmist wrote, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word" (Psalm 119:67). Four verses later, the psalmist added that the storm helped him to learn obedience. If some troubling crisis in your own life drives you to depend more upon Him, wouldn't you agree that the crisis turned out to be a good thing? We must understand that sometimes God sends the storm because He loves us. It is painful and we suffer, but the end result makes the suffering worth every tear we shed.

2 God wants us to walk intimately with Him in companionship. God blesses us so often and so graciously that His very blessings become distractions to us. It is easy to be so involved with our gifts that we forget the Giver. Sometimes when a storm comes God will use it to help us return to a loving relationship with Him. When you turn from Him, you will experience a "divine loneliness," an emptiness that will cause you to seek Him more intimately. If it takes a storm for you to recognize your need for God's companionship, He is willing to send it. David wrote, "In the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by" (Psalm 57:1). You and I may not like the dark clouds, but God loves us enough to bring us home through them. He longs for the intimate friendship that difficult times make possible.

3 God is reshaping us to the likeness of His Son by conformity. Romans 8:29 tells us that in using all things to work together, God's great goal is that we "become conformed to the image of His Son." Conformity explains His purpose for all of the storms in your life. We are poured into the mold of worldliness by the books we read, the television shows we watch, and the friendships we cultivate. God wants to mold us into the shape of His own Son. We are influenced most by the person upon whom we gaze most often. It could be a movie star or a sports hero. The human imagination is one of the most powerful aspects of our identity. If I want to resemble the Lord Jesus Christ, I will gaze upon Him. The storms help to shape us, and cause us to take our eyes away from the world and place them upon Him.

4 God wants to do something special with us through comfort. The Lord wants to use you every day of your life "so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:4). We will not have that comfort to give unless we have first received it ourselves. God's storms prepare us to support His other children when they are battered by storms of their own. When our hearts are broken, our hands become stronger through comforting others. He props open the doors of our hearts, and we become more sensitive and compassionate to those around us in difficult circumstances. Then we become living, caring tools in the hands of a loving God who wants to bless everyone who needs to be blessed. Remember, the deeper the valley and the darker the storm, the greater blessing we will become to others. Ours is an awesome God with awesome purposes for you and for me.

5 God helps us determine what we believe about Him through convictions. When the storms of life come, we discover exactly what kind of faith we have. It's not difficult to have conviction when the sun is shining, but what about when a crisis arrives? Storms reveal our doubts, but they also deepen our dependence. When we have no refuge in this world, trusting in Him teaches us how present, powerful, protective, and providing He is when we need Him the most. We emerge as changed people, more trusting and faithful when the next storm appears on life's horizon. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 how he learned, through terrible trials including beatings, stonings, and imprisonment, that God's grace was sufficient for Him in any crisis. The times of torment served not to diminish his faith but to make it stronger. Can you say that about the storms of your life?

6 God wants to rescue us from our own disobedience through change. How terrible a crisis will it take for God to get your attention? Look at the New Testament example of Paul. Did Paul turn to God when he witnessed the tragic stoning of Stephen, a loving and obedient Christian? No, for Paul persisted in attacking the church. It took blindness and helplessness during a journey to Damascus, when Paul finally saw Christ face to face. A terrible, humbling calamity was required for Paul to change into someone who could be useful to the Lord -- and how useful Paul became! The intensity of the storm and the depth of the valley is based on the intensity and depth of your rebellion against God. The deeper the hole you dig for yourself, the deeper He must reach to rescue and bless you.


My friend, I want to challenge you to hold these six words close to your heart in the coming days: cleansing, companionship, conformity, comfort, conviction, and change. It could be that a storm of some kind will appear in your life. How will you respond?

Could this storm have risen because you have strayed from God? Is there some sin that needs to be cleansed? Is your faith strong enough to walk with Him even in the midst of dark times?

You can be certain that whatever storm you may face, God has a purpose for it, and His purpose is loving and just. In the end, you will be able to say that because He is so good, the storm that He allows to happen is good as well.