Where is God in the tempest?
One brief digression to William Shakespeare before I give the answer.
This week we went to see a production of The Tempest. It was Shakespeare’s last play. The plot is simple. A nobleman (in this case played by a woman) is exiled unjustly by his enemies to a remote island. He studies magic and eventually conjures up a massive storm which causes all his enemies to be shipwrecked on the island. But at the moment he is about to take vengeance on them, he chooses instead to have mercy. He forgives them all, destroys his books of magic and the play ends with everyone reconciled and on their way home.
In the play, even though the other players are unaware of it, all the events are being controlled and manipulated by the sorcerer.
The book of Revelation has a similar story line, though without the sorcery. It presents pictures of many storms hitting humanity. These tempests are released upon earth from the throne of God. The storms afflict all, believers and unbelievers alike. But the effect they have is different. The faith of believers is purified, while the rest become even more hardened in heart, just as did Pharaoh and the Egyptians when the first plagues struck. And these storms are seen as hitting humanity throughout the entire time the church exists, not just the last few years before Jesus returns. So they affect you and me.
The wider picture of the Bible shows us that God sent the greatest tempest of all on his own Son. Only because that storm fell upon Christ does the present tempest now purify us and draw us closer to God, instead of obliterating us from the face of the earth. Ultimately, the storms are signs both of judgment and of warning for humanity to make peace with God before it’s too late.
Is the devil involved in the storms we face? Yes, and the last book of the Bible talks about that too. But ultimately, God is in control.
Several of our family members, including us, faced little storms this past week. You need to know before the storm hits that God is in charge. You need to know that God is working out his purposes no matter what the immediate circumstances may be. Don’t panic and don’t give up. How you respond to the tempest will make a lot of difference to what happens afterward.
But here’s the best part. You don’t have to wait till the end of the play to know how it will come out for you. God has already made the decision to forgive.
The tempest that fell on Calvary will get you through any storms you face.