Jesus Can Calm the Storm

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On Easter Sunday night, a 145 mile per hour tornado ripped through my neighborhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As I sat in our inner room with my two daughters (my son and wife were in another small inside room), my 11-year old daughter Audrey asked, “Can’t God just stop the storm?”

I answered, “He can stop it anytime He wants. When Jesus was on a boat and His disciples were about to drown, He calmed the storm at just the right time.” I then prayed for protection for our family and our home.

A few minutes later, the storm had passed, and we began to assess our surroundings. Our house sustained some minor damage, but was still standing. Our family was safe. I silently praised God for protecting us.

What I did not realize was how seriously the rest of our neighborhood had been damaged. Nearly every tree in our yard was now in the yard. Our next-door neighbor had a tree through her home. Two houses down, another neighbor had two large trees smashed across their two vehicles. The next home had a large tree through the middle of it, totaling the house.

When the sun rose, I walked around the neighborhood to discover what looked like a war zone. Power lines crisscrossed major roads. Some people walked our street with only the belongings they could carry. I would later learn over 9,000 homes had been damaged just in our county, with over 600 homes sustaining major damage or considered a total loss.

In addition, the school my older two children attend was destroyed. My son, a senior in high school, had already been completing coursework from home due to the COVID-19 virus shutting down classes. Now his campus was no longer standing.

Such times can cause us to question God and His plans. Why would He allow one home to stand and another to be destroyed? Why is one school blown apart while another receives no damage?

God does not always answer our details as we wish, but He does offer words of encouragement through Scripture. From the story of Joseph emerging from slavery to saving his family, to Jesus calming the storm to rescue His followers, we know God is both aware and active when we face problems. The following three principles have helped in my journey as we remain displaced from our home, awaiting safe access to our neighborhood and home.

First, God promises to be with us through the storm rather than to remove us from the storm. When Jesus left the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, He promised to be with us always. The same remains true today. He is with us, in good times and bad, offering His presence through every trial.

Second, God promises to work through our struggles. We are not always in the mood to hear the words of Romans 8:28 when we are struggling, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” However, regardless of our attitude toward our pain, God works through our pain to accomplish His plan.

Third, God is worthy of praise during good times and bad. In the Old Testament, Job lost his children, workers, and possessions, and even faced much pain to his own body. However, he responded as an example to us, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

Despite the loss of lives and property in our community during the recent tornados, we continue to praise God, trust His promises, and remember His presence in each moment of our lives. As we do, we can continue to face the struggles of rebuilding with our community to continue fulfilling God’s purposes in our lives.

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