Who controls Nature? Is it some arbitrary force often personified as “Nature,” or is it climate change (if you are desperately seeking an answer), or is it some random series of happenings? It is none of these. The One who created the entire universe is the One who has His hand on every aspect of it.
John 1:3 “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” The Christian can accept that by faith and rest in the assurance it gives.
This is one week before Christmas 2023, and I am composing this message on a faithful 2007 MacBook Pro laptop in darkness because we have no electricity, and even this laptop’s battery will run out soon. You see, we just had a cyclone 5 days ago, and we are suffering the results of it.
Great storms around the world go by many names – hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones, depending on where you live. These weather events can be among the most powerful forces in nature. These great disturbances in the weather pattern are caused when warm tropical air begins to rise, causing a circular rotation of winds anti-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
The cyclone we had was called Jasper, and as far as strength goes, it was not a large one. It reached category 2 on a 5-rating scale. This cyclone was supposed to come right in on us but then moved a little to the north and eventually came on the coast 100 kilometers north of us. Our homes in North Queensland are built with cyclone ratings that make them a lot safer than homes built elsewhere. In fact, they are built to withstand 150 km/h winds, so they say.
Well, it passed without too much fuss in my city, but then did something unexpected. It was predicted by the Weather Bureau, who often get predictions wrong most of the time, to keep traveling west as a tropical low and, in a few days, head off toward Darwin. That did not happen. It moved to the west for about 200-300 kilometers or thereabouts, parked itself there for days, and has remained stationary.
Rain, and more rain! In the last 5 days, I have recorded 49.5 inches of rain (1250 mm) at my place, and that was followed by another half inch, making it a total of 50 inches. The rain stopped but the damage has been enormous. I won’t go on about the damage. All day long we have a stream of helicopters coming and going because that is the only way to reach communities north of us. Some places have had over 2 meters of rain (that is 80 inches), and reports are coming in of even higher totals.
(I am revising this a few days later. The rain has stopped). It is like living in north-east India or Bangladesh or Assam. Rain has caused the city to be flooded, and the whole coastal region is suffering from flooded areas. All coastal rivers are at major flood levels. My house has some problems, but nothing like some people who have water in their homes and cave-ins entering their homes and are being evacuated.
The water damage is immense. Highways have had sections just washed out, completely gone, by the raging torrents of waters, and sections of ranges have collapsed, bringing large boulders and orange debris down over the roads. There is much more, and you can see that if you search “flooding in far North Queensland.”
It is at times like that we have a whole mix of emotions, and it is the same for all of us, Christian and non-Christian. It is the same in any crisis or tragedy. People are called upon sometimes to face awful tragedies, from medical diagnoses to receiving news of a family member being killed in a car accident.
Returning home to find your house has been burgled or running from your home because it is being engulfed by fire are just two more examples. I know the list is endless, and people suffer a lot.
The expression I used, “Christian and non-Christian,” might be equal for tragedy, but the understanding and support are different. We can put it this way. The Christian is like an oyster that is fastened to a rock, but the non-Christian is like a jellyfish that just passes by because there is no stability to which it can anchor itself. That Rock, of course, that Christians are anchored to is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Rock of support.
Psalm 18:2 “THE LORD IS MY ROCK AND MY FORTRESS and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” David found that Rock to be his refuge many times and resorted to his God on every occasion that the situation was too great for him. We have all seen in storms where items can be blown around in the wind. Lives are like that. They are carried by the winds in storms because life has no solid basis when isolated to itself.
One of the illustrations Jesus told was about that very matter. Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared with a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act upon them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”
This story confirms there are only two foundations, and they are greatly contrasted. The stability was founded upon rock, but the sand represented the superficial life, one without substance. What that means is that there are only two ways: the correct one that leads to life and security, and the incorrect one that leads to death and hell. I am not being dramatic. There is too much superficiality in this world; people deluded and deceived by so many things. That is what Satan and his hordes do – they keep people away from eternal life in the Lord Jesus and bind them up in sin so they can’t be released.
Jesus said there were only two ways: the broad one because so many are on it, and the narrow one because only few are on it. He also said this – John 14:5-6 “Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going. How do we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME.'”
The world hates that message because Jesus said He is THE ONLY WAY TO GOD. People like to pave their own way to God, or they think there are many ways and that all religions lead to heaven. That is the devil’s lie. Jesus is the only way to the Father, and it is not found in a particular church or in keeping rules or traditions. The entry into God’s kingdom is simple; it is through a saving faith, but it is a committed faith. It is serious, not an act or a pretense or an act to please another person. It is genuine, but without it, you will perish.
Matthew 11:27-29 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. COME TO ME, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”
Sometimes in life, we have to weather pretty hard and fierce conditions. Life has many storms with fierce winds, and much personal damage and hurt can be done to us. There can be huge personal turmoil, and our lives can become hard or bitter and hurt. The storms can almost be too much to bear.
I know a woman who is a Christian, but she has all manner of tragedies and conflicts every day of her life, as well as great and constant health problems. What she has to put up with is horrendous, but her faith is in the Lord. Christians support her, and this is such a strength to her. When all is said and done, human beings are very frail people.
The bravado some have is all show, all on the surface, but when the real storm hits, the bravado is stripped away; at least it is stripped away on the inside. Real storms expose the fragility of a person, but once that becomes reality, then turn to Jesus with all your heart and soul, for there is salvation in no one else and comfort in no one else. SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO THE LORD JESUS.
There is a calm that every human being can know in the midst of life’s storms. There is something very special about resting in the peace and calm that Jesus can give when turmoil rages all around you. When you are passing through rough seas, and the terrible weather of life comes your way, you can seek that calm and peace found in God’s love. That calmness God gives is like being in the sheltered eye of the storms of life.
There is a very fitting example of resting in calm over troubled waters or riding the wild elements in peace. It is found in a man of long ago called Noah. The world had become so bad and unjust that destruction came upon it, but Noah was a good man. While the judgment of God raged all around him, he was sheltered in the Ark that God had provided. That was the calm of God’s provision in the midst of the storm.
Sometimes I think of Noah in the ark, and I wonder what his thoughts were. Yes, he would have gratitude in being saved from destruction; he would be calm and contented in the will of God. I think he would also be very humble, for when God removes you from disaster and you realize the grace of God that did that, then your soul must open up to God. He would have known that because as the Lord had been faithful to him in the past and in the present, then the Lord would be faithful to him in the future. It reminds me of that verse – Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”
This is a very important fact to contemplate – 2 Timothy 2:11-13 “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
Sometimes we confess we do deny the Lord in subtle ways, and we are not always faithful, being faithless on occasions. What a beautiful fact that even when we sinfully do that, the Lord remains faithful.
On the eve of the cross, Jesus said the most remarkable words to His disciples, words of comfort and strength, words of loving kindness, and words of assurance in all the storms of life. Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God, not lightning or raging torrents or howling winds. We have peace in life’s storms.
John 14:15-18 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments, and I will ask the Father, and He will give you ANOTHER HELPER THAT HE MAY BE WITH YOU FOREVER – that is, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”
How wonderful our God is, yet men dismiss God; men turn from light to darkness and pursue their own destruction. Satan has the minds and hearts of most of the world’s population, and they rush blindly and hatefully on the way to hell. I am perturbed at the vile demonstrations and hate coming from these Palestinian demonstrations in our nations with slaughter on their minds toward the Jews. And these are joined by non-Moslems with a rabid hate for Israel, all fermented by that evil father of lies who hates God’s people, that is Satan.
Listen for a moment to those of you who are not saved. Please heed the words God has given. Terrible times are beginning to come on this world and will increase in intensity until the coming of the Lord for His own Christians. Then you will miss out. God tells you this – Hebrews 3:7-8 “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness.” The Jews left Egypt in the exodus, but they hardened their hearts on the journey to Canaan, and they all missed out who had left Egypt. Salvation is offered to you in the world’s turmoil; peace in the storms of life, and assurance with God.
Are you wanting the place of calm in life’s storms? That special place is available for you. Jesus said, “COME TO ME, ALL WHO ARE WEARY AND HEAVY-LADEN, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
I have experienced a number of cyclones and have been in the eyes of three of them. The eye is the center of the giant storm, where it is relatively peaceful. During one of these cyclones in the past (remember the same as hurricanes), I wrote what I experienced. Here it is:
Cyclone Justin, which crossed the Australian coast in 1997, was one of these turbulent weather systems. The Weather Bureau had been tracking this cyclone for over three weeks. It developed in the Coral Sea as one of the biggest systems ever known. During the time it was being tracked by meteorological instruments, it drenched the whole northern Coral Sea with rainfalls of more than two meters (6-7 feet) in places. Then, it lost intensity and slowly drifted toward New Guinea.
In the hotter waters of the tropics, it reformed and grew in intensity and cut a course for the Australian coast. Strong upper-level winds sheared the top right off it when it had been 20 km high and carried most of the heavy rain off to New Guinea. But still, it kept coming, reforming itself as it advanced.
I was waiting, wondering if this system would hit us or veer away from the coast. Weather satellites and radar continued to monitor its progress as it tracked steadily toward the coast.
As usual all the coastal inhabitants had been warned to take precautions and prepare for a possible encounter with this unpredictable storm. Do you remember the cartoons that used to get around with some person holding a placard with “Prepare to meet your God” on it? Well, that is one preparation all should make, but this was another. Almost certainly the electricity would be cut.
Violent south-east winds had been blowing with increasing intensity for some time, and at 11 a.m. Saturday, Cyclone Justin hit us. It was one of the strangest feelings to be howled around by violent winds for a few hours, then rather suddenly, to be in the eye of the storm. For one hour, we were in the cyclone’s eye, which was 20 km across as it passed over the top of us.
What an experience! Now the weather had become calm, with only occasional gentle breezes. Overhead, you could see the wild storm with raging clouds racing across the sky in only about a minute, from horizon to horizon. Above and around, there was violence and turmoil and destruction, but for one hour, we were in the eye of the storm. I walked around outside. There was no rain, no hint of the fury we experienced just some minutes beforehand. Only debris and leaves and fallen trees proved that there was a cyclone indeed.
Then, a strange change of events happened. The clouds slowed, became still just for a short time, and then they changed direction. The weather became violent again, and the winds howled from the opposite direction, stronger than before.
That really spoke to me. Being in the eye of the storm was special. As I stood there watching the calm weather, I knew that only a few kilometers out, all around me, the storm was at its worst, but for me, in that one hour, there was calm. That weather event was a moving experience for me but just as moving is an experience with the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is the picture of Noah. He was at peace in the eye of the flood storm when all around was chaos and disaster. God was his stay and sure defense. Noah sheltered in the mighty Rock. What a moving experience to go through a cyclone and to know peace when in the eye. That is what God does for us all the time. He holds us in the “eye” of His hand in peace and comfort when all this world wants to do is batter the life out of us.
Jesus is our peace, our comfort, our hope of eternal salvation, our mighty Rock. Come, Lord Jesus, come, and soon, to take us to your very presence.