A few days ago I saw footage of two different episodes of storm chasers coming into extremely close contact with tornadoes with multiple vortexes. On the first occasion, the chasers came up to the whirling clouds as they formed, disbanded, and then reformed again along a straight road stretching out ahead of the camera crew. One long, rope-like cloud spun near the roadside while two others touched down, lifted up and then dropped down again, revolving around each other as though they were dancing.
The second occasion was taped from the backseat of a vehicle as it raced along towards a fully formed funnel near the side of the road. The camera turned backward towards the rear of the speeding vehicle where another cloud formed, touched down, and raced along behind them almost as if the storm was chasing the storm chasers. With one ahead and one behind, it seemed as though they were caught in a trap.
And then a voice on the recording said, "Hey! There's a funnel cloud right over us." After a few short seconds later the camera began to spin over and over, finally landing in the floor of the vehicle. The audio cut off but then turned on again to record some exclamations of pain and surprise. The camera was picked up, turned towards the rear window where the glass had been blown out. The passenger sitting to the left of the cameraman was shown, trickles of blood running down her surprised face, the aftermath seemingly of shrapnel from their altercation with the twister.
Of course, you have likely heard (or read) how the storms that produced these nearly deadly tornadoes in the last week also spawned large funnel clouds that have taken the lives of many other people, and demolished the homes of countless others.
It may occur to you that these storms and their deadly twister offspring are reminiscent of circumstances and trials that suddenly drop out of the sky into the lives of people everyday. Of course, we may know of people (or may even be those people) who, like storm chasers, are going out of their way to get as close as possible to trouble (for the thrill of it or perhaps some other reason), but assuming that you are not looking for trouble, trouble sometimes finds you anyway.
Some will say that if you accumulate enough good "karma" that you will avoid trouble, or if you have enough faith, trouble will not come to you. Perhaps you know of someone who believes in "luck" and calculates their propensity for trouble (or for escaping it) by trying to determine how lucky he is or by carefully reading horoscopes and so forth.
But Jesus Himself had "trouble", which is to say that He experienced uncomfortable, painful and sorrowful situations in the days prior to His ascension into heaven. Those things were not the result of His going out of His way to find such trouble nor were they the result of His being negligent with daily opportunities to make for Himself a life of prosperity and/or ease. They were simply the circumstances that arose in His life as He engaged the world.
Mockers, disloyal friends, rejection, conspiracy, betrayal, pain, humiliation, and death were "troubles" or "storms" that arose in His life that allowed Him to demonstrate the extent of His faithfulness to the Father, His love for us, and His commitment to conquer the troubles that beset Him with a victory so complete that we, as His followers, would inherit a rock-solid assurance that sustains us when twisters of trouble suddenly and unexpectedly drop down onto us.
Jesus comforted His disciples with words that are meant also for us today. "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 NIV).
What kinds of troubles are swirling around you right now? What vortexes of confusion, doubt, and fear are threatening to turn your life upside down? Whatever the occasion, the victory of Jesus is found in His not only overcoming death, but in guaranteeing us an eternal place of belonging. Whatever storm may be beating up on you right now will, sooner or later, have to pass. Who awaits you on the other side of your storm? God!
Simply trust that the winds will eventually give way again to peace, that hailstones of hurt and doubts will finally have to end, and that whatever wounds you have suffered can be bound up and healed by the hands of God.
When I find myself discouraged and I wonder if I can survive another storm, God's Holy Spirit reminds me that even if all the world is lost to me, He has heaven in store for me. So if you are finding yourself a victim to troubles that are threatening to spin your life out of control, remember the One Who sometimes calms our storms but sometimes chooses to walk with us through them. It could very well be that He is striving to help us know Him better and give others in the world through us a glimpse of grace and hope that no wind on earth can possibly blow away.