Answers In The Midst Of A Storm

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One of my favorite Bible stories growing up was about Jonah and the whale.

Jonah was an eighth-century prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel.

God directed Jonah to Nineveh where he was to preach repentance to the Assyrians who were meaner than a junk yard dog.  The Assyrians were evil, cruel, heartless, evil and idolatrous, and yes, I did say evil twice.

Jonah didn’t want to preach repentance to the Assyrians. . .he wanted them wiped off the face of the earth.  He wanted the people of Nineveh to have a Sodom and Gomorrah experience.

Needless to say, Jonah wasn’t too happy about them having the opportunity to miss hell.  The scripture really doesn’t say why Jonah hated the Assyrians so. . .but he did.

Jonah was a prophet. . .but he kinda missed it. . .when it came to foretelling what was in his future.

His hatred must have been intense because he refused the assignment to Nineveh and caught the first boat out of town..

Once again, what kind of prophet thinks you can refuse to do what God says or that you can run away where He won’t find you.

Jonah bought passage on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship to Tarshish.

Jonah 1:3 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord [as His prophet] and went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading places then known]. So he paid the appointed fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord [as His servant and minister].”

No doubt Jonah was enjoying his cruise. . .the activities on the Lidio deck and the midnight buffet.  But things began to change pretty quickly.

Jonah 1:4 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But the Lord sent out a great wind upon the sea, and there was a violent tempest on the sea so that the ship was about to be broken.”

When the storms of life come up. . .those who may have been previously kind to you. . .change as quickly as the wind.

Jonah 1:5 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Then the mariners were afraid, and each man cried to his god; and they cast the goods that were in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.”

If I were Jonah at that particular time. . .I believe I would have been in a dry corner of that ship repenting for my disobedience to God’s directions.

Jonah didn’t have a long nap.  As a matter of fact, Jonah taking a nap in the middle of the storm made the captain and crew wonder about his motivation.

Jonah 3:6-9 says:

“So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”

7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

When facing adversity. . .sometimes we get so caught up in the trials. . .that we forget to look for answer that can and will solve our problems.

A woman was driving through the mountains of North Carolina last winter when she ran into a snowstorm and became very frightened of her circumstances.  As she looked through the heavy snowfall she made out a snowplow in front of her.

The woman kept as close to the snow plow as possible, however, at times the snow was so heavy that it interfered with her view of the snow plow and the road in front of here.  But, the woman stayed behind it even when at times the snowfall was so heavy that she almost lost her guide.

After about 30 minutes, the snow plow stopped, and the driver got out and walked back to the lady’s car.

The snow plow operator asked the woman where she was going.

The woman replied that she was on her way to Goldsboro, NC.

The driver smiled and said:  “Maam, you’re never going to get there following me because I’m plowing the parking lot at this mall.”

When facing adversity….needing answers. . .make sure you don’t limit your search to Google or Wikipedia. . .where you might get some of the answers you need. 

When dealing with the storms of life. . .you need to hear from the One who made it all happen.

Here are seven keys to finding God’s answers in every adversity.

1.         Look to God for answers. . .first.

Jonah 1:10 says:

“Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, What is this that you have done? For the men knew that he fled from being in the presence of the Lord [as His prophet and servant], because he had told them.”

Never look to a man or woman for an answer to a question that God should and can answer for you.

We were created in God’s image and after His likeness. . .so it stands to reason that if there’s a problem. . .we need to check the manufacturer’s instruction manual first.

When we look to God. . .He gives us peace in the midst of every storm. . .no matter how intense.

Philippians 4:7 in the New Living Translation says:

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 26:3 in the Amplified Bible says:

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

The key to finding peace and protection in every situation is to always put God first.

2.         Be honest about your situation

Did you contribute either intentionally or unintentionally to the situation you’re facing?

Jonah 1:11-12 in the New Living Translation says:

“And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”  “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

When we mess up. . .we must fess up. . .so we can get up and move on.

1 John 1:7, 9 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].

9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”

Repentance is the first step toward healing.

3.         Refrain from trying to take charge.

When the sea got rough. . .the crew of the ship. . .tried to solve the problem using their natural abilities.  They didn’t know to seek a spiritual solution. . .so they tried taking matters in their own hands.

Jonah 1:13 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship to the land, but they could not, for the sea became more and more violent against them.”

When we try to solve our own problems. . .when we take matters into our own hands. . .things just seem to get worse.

The technological advances of our time have made us a power up. . .power down generation and if things don’t work the way they’re supposed to. . .then we feel helpless and soon aggravated.

Jonah 1:14 in the Living Bible says:

“Then they shouted out a prayer to Jehovah, Jonah’s God. “O Jehovah,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin, and don’t hold us responsible for his death, for it is not our fault—you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”

The crew of the ship knew things were beyond their control. . .so they prayed to “Jehovah, Jonah’s God.”

When we recognize that God has everything under control. . .our answer is already on the way.

In the midst of life’s storms. . .we need to trust God.

4.         Trust God’s timing.

Jonah 1:15 in the New Living Translation says:

“Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!”

For the crew. . .calm followed calamity.  The raging storm stopped at once.

While it seems we’re being buffeted about we have to trust God and His timing.  Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the old saying that it’s darkest before the dawn.

When we rely on God and His timing. . .things turnaround quickly.

Psalm 30:5 in the Amplified Bible says:

“For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

5.         Be careful about your vows.

Jonah 1:16 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Then the men [reverently and worshipfully] feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.”

The crew of the ship. . .in recognizing what happened. . .did the most spiritual thing they knew to do. . .they gave an offering.

In difficult situations, many people sometimes make what in war they call “foxhole promises” where soldiers vow by saying. . .Lord, if you get me out of this, I will never do that again.”

I’m reminded of the story of a well-known Texas oilman who was on a plane once which experienced engine trouble.  When the second engine went out. . .the oilman was heard praying.

He said, “Lord, if you get me safely on the ground. . .I’ll give you half of everything I own.”

Immediately, both engines fired back up. . .the plane leveled off. . .and was able to make a normal landing.

As the people disembarked from the plane. . .a priest ran up to the oilman and said: “My good man, I heard what you prayed on the plane about giving the Lord half of what you owned if the plane landed safely.  I’m here to help you fulfill your vow.”

The oilman said:  “Father, I don’t need your help.  I made a better deal.”

The confused priest inquired, “you made a better deal. . .what was that?”

The oilman said, “I told the Lord that if I ever got on another airplane, I’d give him everything I own.”

God takes vows very seriously. . .but He is also ever ready to help us out of every adversity.

Proverbs 3:5-6 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”

6.         Answers aren’t always obvious.

If you’ve ever been on a cruise. . .you know there are always side trips to exotic cities or islands.  Without question, Jonah took the most interesting side trip anybody has ever had.

Jonah 1:17 says:

“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

If you’ve ever wondered if a great fish (whale or whatever) could swallow a man alive. . .the answer is absolutely.  If the Bible says Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. . .he was.

I love the story of the little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though they were a very large mammal their throat was very small.

The little girl stated Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

The teacher reiterated a whale could not
swallow a human; it was impossible.

The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah."

The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."

Some Christian liberals say that the story of Jonah is an allegory but the book bearing his name is written as historical fact. 

Plus, listen to what Jesus had to say about Jonah and the whale.

Matthew 12:40 in the Amplified Bible says:

“For even as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

If the Bible and Jesus both say Jonah was swallowed by a whale. . .that’s good enough for me.

I will confess that the belly of a whale is probably one of the most unusual places for a church service. . .but it worked.

Someone once said:

“Jonah’s relief at being delivered from the whale can hardly have been any greater than the whale’s at being delivered from Jonah.”

Bottom line, it was a miracle.

Job 9:10 in the New International Version says:

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

God is still working miracles and that’s what He wants to do in each of our lives. . .believe it or not.

7.         God will solve the problem.

After Jonah came from his personal revival in that sanctified submarine he repented of his attitude and did was he was asked to do in the first place.

Thomas Edison once said:

“When down in the mouth, remember Jonah.  He came out all right.”

Jonah 2:10 says:

“And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”

The scripture says the Lord spoke to the fish. . .just like He spoke to Balaam’s donkey.  If God spoke to a whale and a donkey. . .don’t you think He will speak to you?

When you’re facing a storm. . .feel like you’ve been swallowed up in your circumstances here are three suggestions for your ride on a spiritual Titanic.

First, trust God’s Word which is terrific, timely, timeless and to be treasured for the special gift that it is.

Second, keep walking by faith not by sight.

And just for the record, God can’t navigate us out of troubled waters until we give him the helm. . .control of our ship.

2 John 1:6 in the Amplified Bible says:

“And what this love consists in is this: that we live and walk in accordance with and guided by His commandments (His orders, ordinances, precepts, teaching). This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love [guided by it and following it].”

Third, never give in, give up, back up, back down, quit or walk away from the promises of God. . .no matter what your circumstances look like.

1 Peter 4:19 says:

“Therefore, those who are ill-treated and suffer in accordance with God’s will must do right and commit their souls [in charge as a deposit] to the One Who created [them] and will never fail [them].”

If you feel like you’re in the belly of a whale where you can’t see a way out. . .enjoy the ride. . .your deliverance is at hand.