A furious squall came up. (Mark 4: 37)
Some of life’s storms— a great sorrow, a bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat— suddenly come upon us. Others may come slowly, appearing on the uneven edge of the horizon no larger than a person’s hand. But trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.
Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak tree, He plants it where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it. It is in the midnight battle with the elements that the oak develops its rugged fiber and becomes the king of the forest.
When God wants to make a person, He puts him into some storm. The history of humankind has always been rough and rugged. No one is complete until he has been out into the surge of the storm and has found the glorious fulfillment of the prayer “O God, take me, break me, make me.”
A Frenchman painted a picture of universal genius. In his painting stand famous orators, philosophers, and martyrs, all of whom have achieved preeminence in various aspects of life. The remarkable fact about the picture is this: every person who is preeminent for his ability was first preeminent for suffering. In the foreground stands the figure of the man who was denied the Promised Land: Moses. Beside him, feeling his way, is blind Homer. Milton is there, blind and heartbroken. Then there is the form of One who towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His face is marred more than any other. The artist might have titled that great picture The Storm.
The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and battle-scarred.
You have been in the storms and swept by the raging winds. Have they left you broken, weary, and beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood or womanhood? Have they left you with more sympathy for the storm-swept and the battle-scarred?
The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It blows toward east, and then toward west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best.
The tree that God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads greater limbs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.
There is no storm has power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;
When they are spent, it does remain,
The tree God knows,
Through every storm it still stands fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still fairer grows.
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 36). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.