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KOEDYKER: Lessons learned from this summer's sudden storm

• Aug 9, 2017 at 3:00 PM

It’s been a little more than a month since the big storm blew into Grand Haven. At our house, we have finally reclaimed our backyard. The damages on our house are still an eyesore, but repairs are reported to be coming soon.

Great! We can’t wait!

Now that a little more time has gone by, I have gotten a few more insights on storms — what they are like and how they affect our lives. Particularly, I was drawn to the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Mark, chapter 4.

If you recall this incident, it was one of the great miracles that Jesus performed by calming the storm with the words, “Peace! Be still.” And, at his command, the wind died down and it was completely calm.

So, in my column today, I’d like to think with you a bit, not only about the storm on the Sea of Galilee, but the storms that come into our lives — maybe not weather-related, but indeed they are storms that cause havoc in our lives.

The following are some observations on the characteristics of storms and how they impact our lives.

First, storms often come up unexpectedly. Storms are not always predicted. They happen without warning. The storm we had in Grand Haven last month is a good example of that. I read in the Tribune a few days after the storm that no warning sirens went off because the winds over Lake Michigan were not that strong — but as soon as the storm hit land, the winds took off and went wild.

Storms were known to come up suddenly on the Sea of Galilee, too. It seemed like a nice evening for a sail. Everything was calm after a long day of teaching and interaction with the crowds of people who had come to hear Jesus’ teaching. But all of a sudden it hit. No warning!

With us, in life, storms can come unexpectedly: losing your job, a car accident, a doctor’s diagnosis of a serious illness. You weren’t expecting these things. You had made plans. You weren’t finished with your bucket list yet. Suddenly things are different. Your life has taken an unexpected turn. So don’t be surprised when one strikes.

Secondly, storms are usually unavoidable. Try as you may, you are stuck. Storms just happen.

Sometimes there are reasons for storms, like when they are of our own making. If you lie or cheat or steal, you could have some stormy consequences with the law.

But sometimes there is just no reasonable explanation. For example, why did I have a dozen trees go down in my yard and my friend in Holland said he had about six leaves to pick up. Why did the tornado take this path and not another? Why does one person get cancer and a neighbor who basically has the same diet and lifestyle doesn’t?

About all we can say is that we live in a fallen world. And that means that even the creation, which Genesis 1 says God made to be “very good,” is still not perfect. It, too, is affected by sin and at times it can go wild; it can be very destructive. As Paul instructs us, “creation itself waits with eager expectation to be delivered from its bondage of corruption and brought into the glorious freedom that awaits the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

And yet, nothing happens outside of God’s control. Just as Jesus tames the demons and the diseases that plagued people, so he tames the storm. He who is the divine Son of God, “the Word by which all things were made” (John 1:3), had no reason to fear the storm.

Jesus calms the storm in Mark, chapter 4, and he is more than capable of calming the storms that invade our lives.

Thirdly, storms make us anxious. The disciples were anxious, no doubt about that! “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” How would you describe that sentiment? Anxious, scared, nervous, fearful, terrified? How about all of the above. And when you’re nervous and scared, other things can follow: accelerated heart rate, high blood pressure, strokes.

The disciples probably thought this was it. They were goners, for sure. They were going to drown. And they would have been except for the fact that Jesus was in the boat.

Fortunately, he is in our boat, too. You may not have realized it, but he’s there. He does not force himself on us — he waits for us to ask. And when we do, he graciously rescues us and gives us a “peace that transcends all understanding.”

No matter what storm has blown into your life, you, too, can know that same peace.

— By the Rev. John Koedyker, Tribune community columnist

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