“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
Most of us carry “smart” phones in our pockets today. These are phones that come with data plans, meaning we are connected 24/7. No matter where we are, we can check out and post to our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat accounts. We can also stay on top of breaking news; send and receive texts from our friends.
I don’t agree living in a connected world is always a good thing. Just look around the restaurant you frequent the next time and see how many patrons are looking at their smartphones rather than just having pleasant conversations with each other.
One smartphone feature I do like is Wireless Emergency Alerts. If there is a significant weather event – a violent thunderstorm, a tornado, etc. – 911 centers and other emergency agencies can send us an alert through our smartphones. It’s a great feature offered by most mobile carriers and you can enable it through your smartphone settings.
Advance warnings about storms saves lives and help us to prepare for the storm coming our way. My wife and I agreed the other day how nice it would be if there was some way to warn us about the personal storms that come our way
In terms of life’s storms, the truth is we are either heading into a storm, already in the middle of a storm, or are coming out of a storm. We can’t always predict the coming storm, but we can be sure one is coming. We just don’t always know how bad it will be and when it will hit.
Most of us realize that God doesn’t guarantee that Christians will not face trials. What we sometimes fail to recognize, however, is when trouble does come our way, he expects us to use it as an opportunity to strengthen our faith. Every crisis that comes our way provides an opportunity for spiritual growth. We may not always have the ability to fully prepare for them, but we can always learn something from them.
Jesus tells us a story in John 15 about storms and why we have them. In this parable, God is owner of a vineyard and we are the vines. He owns them, he loves them, and he cares for them. He removes every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, so there will be more room for the branches that do bear fruit. He even prunes the branch that does bear fruit because it’s the only chance that branch will have to bear more fruit.
The Lord teaches us about several spiritual truths in that parable that we can apply to every storm that may come our way.
1. He points out that we have an opportunity to glorify God. Storms are our chance to show the difference that God’s presence makes in our lives. In other words, it’s our chance to let His glory shine through our problem. That why Jesus says: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.” (John 15:8)
2. He also reminds us that God is never closer than when trouble comes our way. Think about it. The owner of the vineyard is never any closer than when he’s pruning the vine. It’s at this point in any storm that we are close enough to touch him and he is close enough to touch us.
3. Finally, Jesus lets us know that those who use their faith to navigate their way through storms are not just believers, they are his friends. “No longer do I call you servants …but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)
Indeed, He is a friend that “sticketh closer than a brother”. In fact, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned about my relationship with God from the storms that have come my way for anything. Oh I may not be happy about the circumstances in which I find myself, then or now. But I now understand what it means to “count it all joy”.Share on Facebook