Trouble Is Coming by Larry W. Peebles November 4, 2016 16.42
Why do bad things happen? This is a question I hear often, especially when it concerns seemingly good people. I do not want to gloss over this question with an answer that is shallow and superficial. However, since I heard this question again within the past week, I do want to share some insight I also recently gained.
We live in an imperfect and fallen world. The devil gained a toe-hold in the earth when sin entered God’s perfect creation. Man’s dominion over God’s earthly creation was taken, and man will remain in a struggle until that dominion is perfectly restored. Things happen that are the plan of the devil, who the Bible says “comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Jesus told His disciples they would face persecution, and He did not promise us a trouble-free life. Indeed, without being overly pessimistic, we must conclude that even the most admirable believer will face trouble.
I just returned home from three days of outdoor gospel crusade meetings which had been planned for months. As we got on the airplane to travel half-way around the world, these meetings were being threatened by weather–the remnant of a cyclone (hurricane). This crusade was intentionally planned in a remote area where the gospel had not been preached outdoors in a public meeting venue. The roads were under-developed, and many would walk for miles to attend. We did not postpone the crusade, nor did we move it. We prayed. Hundreds of believers and supporters prayed that God would intervene against the weather and protect the meetings. For three days the system produced rain all around the meeting site, coming as close as one-half mile, but the grounds where the meetings were held stayed dry. Sound equipment and lights remained functional. People came by the thousands, many more than were expected, traveled safely, and sat on dry ground. I believe that by our collective prayers, we took authority over that storm, and God miraculously kept it away.
The Biblical basis for this comes from a story told in the New Testament. Jesus and His disciples got in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Jesus fell asleep. A storm approached, and threatened to swamp the boat. The disciples feared for their lives, and woke Jesus. Luke 8: 24, 25 says- “He [Jesus] got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’” [Emphasis mine.]
Jesus says something very incredible that causes us to be optimistic regarding the storms and troubles of our lives. In John 14:12-14, Jesus says- “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He has given us authority to use His name when we pray. He has told us we can expect our prayers to be answered, and that we will do great things in His name. When He spoke to the storm, He was teaching that we can do the same.
Here are two recent observations on this discussion of storms and trouble that may come our way:
- When the storms of life come, it is better to be in the boat with Jesus than doing our own thing in our own boat. If we live a life committed to Him, we are seeking Him in a personal relationship. We strive to be and do what He wants us to be and do. We are on His side, and in His boat. When we are in the center of His will, we are under the protective wings of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1, 2). That is the perfect place to be when the storms come.
- On those days when we feel we have no effective prayers, and there is no power to change anything, we need to remember there is a difference between power and authority. We are not to rely on feelings and appearances. In John A. MacMillan’s classic book “The Authority of the Believer”, one finds the illustration of a traffic cop. The officer does not have the power to stop an oncoming bus or 18-wheeler, but he has been granted the authority to control and stop the traffic.
Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth to halt, detour, and destroy the storms and troubles of life. He has granted us the authority to use His name to deal with them also. Human nature is such that if we have no storms or troubles, we become lazy and content. Trouble will surely come, but we are stronger when we exercise our God-given authority to calm the storm.
Why do bad things happen– because our enemy, the devil, “prowls around, like a lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5: 8). A more productive question might be “What do we do about it?” We stay in the boat with Jesus. We exercise the authority we have been granted, pray in the name of Jesus, and believe we can calm the storm. 1 Peter 5:9-10 goes on to say “Resist him, standing firm in the faith….and Christ, …after you have suffered a while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
We are told to not be afraid of the test. We prepare by getting in the boat with Jesus, and exercising our authority by praying in His name. He supplies the power to calm the storm.