Do you remember what it was like to be afraid of thunderstorms? As children we might’ve thought the lightning was just another kind of fireworks show, until the crash of thunder rolled in behind it. We try to tell little ones they don’t have to be afraid, but it rarely works. One story I heard when I was little was that the thunder was the sound of angels bowling. Apparently they’re a lot better at it than I am.
My family has a little dog. I call him a “scaredy-dog” because he’s afraid of everything. If the smoke alarm goes off when I’m cooking, he whines until he can get out of the house. When one of the cats gets near him, he whines and tries to get away. And when there is a thunderstorm in the forecast, he whimpers all day, dreading its coming. He used to belong to my mother-in-law. She tells us how he would try to hide under her pillow during a storm. While she was sleeping on it. He’s a crazy little dog.
What about you? Are you afraid of thunderstorms? Do the claps of thunder still catch you off guard? I still count the seconds between lightning and thunder to see how close the storm is and whether it is coming or going. I still expect to hear the sound of smaller footsteps entering the bedroom. But not every storm we face is found in the clouds and rain. Thankfully, there is a powerful key to weathering the storms of life.
Most of us have grown out of the “scared of thunderstorms” stage. One of the things that did it for me was living in a place where tornados were a normal part of summer life. A middle of the night “angel bowling tournament” was nothing compared to the sky turning orange or green and the old bomb raid sirens blaring in the distance.
Of course, those became an expected part of life, too. When my wife and I were first engaged, we were at my parents’ house when the sirens went off and the clouds circled in. So we all went down to the basement and pulled out my dad’s Star Wars Monopoly. She couldn’t believe we were so calm through it all. I told her that what she’d seen that day was nothing compared to a “real” tornado warning.
What helps us know we can get through the storm? Not everyone makes it to the other side. But we can have peace in the midst of the storm. We don’t have to be afraid. In our lives, storms are not always thunder and lightning, rain and hail. Living in this troubled and fallen world means there will be storms of pain and suffering, troubles and failures, not just of the weather, but ones that touch, scar and burden our very souls. We don’t have to be afraid of these storms, either.
The Gospels record a teaching by Jesus where He used the picture of a house weathering a storm.
“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:47–49 NIV)
The Gospel of Matthew describes the torrential storm as rains falling, rivers rising, and wind blowing against the house (Matthew 7:24-27). Here, Luke’s description points to the key to surviving the storm. Did you notice what saved the house in the midst of the storm? The foundation. When we used hear the tornado sirens we would run into the basement. That’s because there is security in the foundation.
No life will be free from storms, either rainstorms or the troubles and pains of life. The way to survive the storms and enjoy the days of sun and warmth that follow, is to have a strong foundation. Scripture calls Jesus our Cornerstone.
“ ‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11–12 NIV)
To build a stone structure, you need a large, strong, level rock to build the entire structure upon. God sent Jesus to be the Cornerstone of our lives, for us to build all we are and hope for upon Him. He is unshakable, immovable, and cannot be taken away from us. This doesn’t mean our lives will be sunny and bright all the time. Instead it gives the knowledge that when storms come, and they will, we can trust in God to get us through to the other side. It means when the storm clouds roll in and the winds begin to gust, our gut reaction doesn’t have to be fear because Jesus is with us, giving us peace.
Today you might be in the middle of blue skies and warm breezes. Or, you might be wondering how you will survive the torrent that is beating against your life. For whatever storm you are already in the middle of, and those you don’t know are on their way, Jesus says to put your hope in Him.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV)
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
(The Solid Rock, Edward Mote & William Batchelder Bradbury, Public Domain)