Growing Closer to God Through the Storms of Life
We encountered a storm this weekend. Storms are common here in the Ozarks. I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast. The kind of storms that you encounter there are not the same that you encounter here in the winter. The sounds of the storm late Friday night were very unique. This psalm describe the power of a storm. But more than the power of the storm, there is the power of God.
The power of God’s call is with me to prepare me for the storms in life.
“Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:1–2, CSB)
The first verses are a prelude to the storm. Before the storm, God is in Heaven receiving the worship that is due to Him. These heavenly beings are worshiping God. They give Him glory. They call out to Him because their recognize the source of their security. The beings in Heaven (whether they are angels or other beings) don’t worry about how things are going to be in Heaven. They just God implicitly. They know that God will take care of them. They serve Him because they are secure in His glory and strength.
The psalm begins in Heaven, where God is above the storm. There, angels are ascribing (or giving honor) to God glory. The heavenly beings, worship because God because He is holy. God is holy because He is unique, whole. God is holy because He has the power to deal with anything. There is no one like God. There is nothing stronger, faster, larger, or more powerful than God. I need to know this because I will go through storms in life.
If God is with me, no one or no thing can be against me. God’s call is irrevocable. This is so important to remember as a Christian. He called me to be His child. A child doesn’t go out into the world to survive on his or her own. The child needs the protection of a parent. A Christian trusts in the protection of God as the Heavenly Father. I need to remember this because there will be storms in my life.
The assurance of God’s voice is with me to guide me through the storms in life.
As far as the weather is concerned, we all encounter storms because of where we live. Life also presents us with various storms in life. Some of the storms contain showers. Others may be full of snow. Some storms are full of ice. Each of these kinds of storms have a different effect. A storm shower is very different than a storm that freezes with ice. In the desert, you may encounter a sandstorm.
In the south, you can encounter what is called a sun shower. The sun is out but you are under a shower at the same time. In some places in the south, people describe a sun shower as “the devil is in the kitchen beating his wife.” The point is there are storms in life. While we are on Earth, we will encounter stormy challenges in life.
Even though I may experience the power of the storm, I need to remember that God is my Storm Tracker. The Bible compares the voice of the Lord to the power of thunder in a storm.
Seven times, the psalm describes the voice of God and compares it to thunder. When you hear thunder, you know that a storm is nearby. Thunder lets you know that a storm is moving in and out. If you pay close attention to the thunder, you can tell if the storm will be short-term or if the storm will last a long time. The sound of the thunder tells you if you will have a heavy rain, or if there will be snow or ice. That thunder acts like a natural storm tracker.
Today, we use radar to track a storm. During a tornado, you will hear of special storm trackers called tornado chasers. These are brave people who watch the storm and relay its power, direction, and intensity. To be a storm tracker is a dangerous profession or hobby. Meteorologists use special storm tracker equipment to show how a storm develops and where it goes. We spend time on television or on our phones tracking the storm with that same information.
Here in Psalm 29, the voice of God acts as a storm tracker. Thunder is an indicator of the storm and is not affected by the storm. The voice of God in my life is like a life-experience storm tracker. God’s voice helps me detect the storm, understand the power of the storm, it’s intensity, and how long it will last. Once I know that God is the storm tracker, I can trust that He will help me through the storm. Here are seven ways that the voice of God is my storm tracker.
Notice as we walk through the seven ways that the voice of God is my storm tracker that the voice intensifies. Just as a tracker’s sound gets louder as it gets closer to it’s target, God’s voice gets louder as I go through the storm. The power of God’s voice intensifies as I go through the storm.
As I encounter a personal growing experience, which every storm brings, God’s voice become more assuring. As I listen to that assuring voice, I grow closer to Him.
7 WAYS THE VOICE OF GOD IS MY STORM TRACKER
1. The voice is above the storm
“The voice of the Lord is above the waters. The God of glory thunders— the Lord, above the vast water,” (Psalm 29:3, CSB)
The point in verse 3 is that through His “voice” God rules the “waters” (Genesis 1:21). In the New Testament Jesus silences the storm (Mark 4:35–41). For the Bible, the storm of this psalm and of the Gospel account may also represent demonic chaos behind nature’s attack or the chaos of the nations. God, however, commands the waters and they submit to Him.1
God is above the storm in your life. He has perspective. He knows how the storm begins and ends because He has the bird’s eye view of your life. He has power over it all.
Do you hear the rumble of the thunder? God is speaking to you.
2. The voice of power through the storm
“the voice of the Lord in power…” (Psalm 29:4, CSB)
How long has it been since you were overwhelmed in this way by a sense of God’s powerful presence? Too often today God has become our “buddy” and “pal.” As Christians we sometimes become so comfortable with the salvation we have received in Christ that we forget just how undeserved it is. When we focus on God only as Redeemer, Savior, and friend, and not as powerful God, creator, and hater of sin and evil, it is easy (often unintentionally) to emasculate our understanding of God until he is like our human buddies and pals who accept us as we are and do not challenge us to change.2
Do you smell the storm? God is reaching out you and letting you know that He is with you.
3. The voice in splendor
“…the voice of the Lord in splendor.” (Psalm 29:4, CSB)
The voice of God is just as awesome as the storm. You look at your storm and you think it has tremendous potential for damage. Remember that the God who takes you through the storm has the same tremendous potential to grow you in your faith with Him.
“Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; sing praise to the Lord, Selah to him who rides in the ancient, highest heavens. Look, he thunders with his powerful voice! Ascribe power to God. His majesty is over Israel, his power is among the clouds.” (Psalm 68:32–34, CSB)
Your storm may be the next chemo treatment. The storm may be moving out of the home you lived in. The storm may the loss of a child.
Do you see the awesome sight of the storm? God is looking at you and showing you how powerful He is.
4. The voice breaks through the storm
“The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion, like a young wild ox.” (Psalm 29:5–6, CSB)
Notice that God can break through the storm. Just as Jesus could speak and the storm became calm. God’s voice can break through the noise of the storm. Like lightning, God strikes out through the storm in our lives.
Charles Stanley rightly asked the question: When adversity hits, what is your first impression of God? Do you regard Him as a cruel taskmaster who is judging you unmercifully and requiring behavior from you that is unreasonable? Or do you regard Him as a benevolent Father who is permitting you to be chastened in a way that will result in your growth and perfection?3
Do you see God hurting you by giving you a storm, or do you see God growing you by helping you break through the storm?
Do you see the lightning as it shatters objects all around you? God is close and He wants you to know that He has the power to break anything around you.
5. The voice flashes flames
“The voice of the Lord flashes flames of fire.” (Psalm 29:7, CSB)
Seven times the voice of the Lord is mentioned. One writer compares it to “successive peals of thunder,” which reverberate over the countryside. At first it is heard over the waters, which seems to mean “above the rain clouds”, powerful and majestic. But then the thunder comes closer, and the storm brings havoc in its train, breaking down the mighty cedars of Lebanon, and making the mountain itself shake till it seems to skip like a calf, like a young wild ox. The peals of thunder are accompanied by flashes of forked lightning.4
Can you see the effects of the voice of God in your life, as you go through your storms? Do you recognize God’s desire to grow closer to you, even when the storms around you are so strong?
6. The voice shakes the wilderness
“The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.” (Psalm 29:8, CSB)
“Then he said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11–12, CSB)
God shakes things up in the storm. Just as Elijah noticed, God’s voice doesn’t have to be loud in order to shake things up. When you go through a storm in life, God is going to shake you up. You will never be the same after a storm experience. As He is tracking with you through the storm, He shakes things away. He tears up your life so that you can see things from a different perspective.
Do you feel the boom and shake of the storm? Can you feel the changes happening to you as you experience the storm? Embrace God and His changes.
7. The voice strips nature bare
“The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the woodlands bare. In his temple all cry, “Glory!”” (Psalm 29:9, CSB)
The power of God’s voice intensifies as He grows me through the storm. At this point, the power of God causes the deer give premature birth to their young , and the forests to be stripped bare as if hit by the hurricane. So evident is the presence of God that the earth seems like his temple.
What is God stripping bare in your life? What is He showing about your need for Him?
The seven-fold thundering voice of God is similar to the seven thunders in Revelation.
“and he called out with a loud voice like a roaring lion. When he cried out, the seven thunders raised their voices. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down!”” (Revelation 10:3–4, CSB)
In Revelation, they are not revealed although they happen between the trumpet and the bowl judgments. The effects of the thunders are not described in Revelation. I suspect the seven thunders in Revelation refers to God in the same way as the same seven thunders from Psalm 29.5
In Psalm 29, the thunders serve the purpose of guidance. In Revelation 10, the thunders serve the purpose of judgment. You want to be led by God’s voice now. You don’t want to be under God’s judgment later.
The security of God’s rule and reign over my life blesses me with strength and peace after the storm.
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned, King forever. The Lord gives his people strength; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:10–11, CSB)
The end of this psalm reminds us that God is on His throne. He is an eternal King. No one or no thing will take Him down. Because God’s reign cannot be overthrown, I can be certain that He will be there when the storm passes. I don’t worry about waking up and wondering what it will be like. I can trust that God will be with me. He will provide strength to help me pick up the pieces after the storm, and He will provide the peace I need to help me with the consequences of the storm. God is never going away.
The psalm begins with “glory in the highest” and ends with “peace on earth.”6 God is there to prepare me before the storm. God is there too guide me through the storm. God is there to bless me after the storm.
1 Donald Williams and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Psalms 1–72, vol. 13, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1986), 236.
2 Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms, vol. 1, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 511.
3 Charles F. Stanley, Advancing through Adversity (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1996).
4 John Stott, Favourite Psalms: Growing Closer to God (Mill Hill, London; Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2003), 35.
5 Jim Erwin, “The Seven Thunders of God,” Psalm 29, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), 10 January 2015, Internet, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/01/10/the-seven-thunders-of-god/, accessed 11 January 2020.
6 F. B. Meyer, Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, vol. 3 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1914–1918), 60–61.