|Image from AP: See bottom of page for link|
I found an answer that works for me, in a portion of the story of Noah and the Great Flood, located in the 8th chapter of Genesis. This passage has given me guidance on how to react to the hard things in life.
It's important to remember that much of our Christian walk is described in the bible in pictures. The Flood was caused by an intense and lengthy storm, and storms often represent trouble in our lives. Read on for just such a representation:
"And God remembered Noah, and all the animals, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided."
The first verse opens with a reminder that God doesn't forget His people, especially in storms. This truth applies even when the trouble is the consequence of our own sin. Often we have storms in life that we bring upon ourselves. Noah didn't cause this storm to come about, but Mankind did. Man brought this destruction on himself.
Before continuing in Genesis 8, we need to take time to balance what was said in the preceding paragraph. That example was given to show that we often can be the ones at fault for the appearance of storms in our life. However, it needs to be emphasized that the opposite is true, as well. It is entirely possible to be in the middle of a tough situation which we had no hand in causing.
Here's an example:
Mark 4:35-40 MKJV
"And evening having come, He said to them on that day, Let us pass over to the other side. And when they had sent away the crowd, they took Him with them as He was in the boat. And there were also other little boats with Him. And there arose a windstorm, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was now full. And He was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a headrest. And they awakened Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we perish? And He awakened and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace! Be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"
We see here that Jesus is the one who directed them to go where they would encounter the storm, and with it, an opportunity to learn a thing or two about trusting in Him.
I wanted to include this passage to make the point that God will allow storms to surround us, and we need not feel guilty about such circumstances. One of the tricks of Satan is to try and make us blame ourselves when things go wrong, or worse, to think that God is punishing us for our bad behavior. Hopefully, this passage will expose the enemy for the liar that he is.
Now, back to Genesis 8:1:
God has been sorry He made man, but He shows mercy by allowing Noah to continue to live. We may go through storms, but He won't let us get destroyed completely; however, the destruction that does happen is for cleansing. Parts of us are being chipped away, parts that do not fit into the mold of His character.
A Need-To-Know Basis
Additionally, let us keep in mind that the storms will stop in God's time, not our own. Matthew Henry's commentary points out that God had told Noah when the flood would come, but He didn't tell Noah when and how the storms would end. God had to tell Noah about the flood ahead of time, as it was necessary to his preparing the ark, but telling him about the end of the flood would keep Noah from being able to exercise his faith and patience.
Faith means not relying on what you can see
Modern pictures of the account of the Flood depict Noah as out on the deck, not unlike a cruise ship. In fact, however, he had closed the Ark off, and stayed down below. He didn't rely on what he could see; he relied on hearing from the Lord
"And he sent out the raven, which went forth going to and fro, until the waters were dried from the earth."
The thinking of the carnally minded person vs. the Spirit-led person
It seems as though the raven never came back--not because he found land (he didn't). He probably went from one dead carcass to another, eating what he could. He never came back to the safety of the boat, which was provided by God. He may well have drowned. He represents carnality; the mind focused on this world, finding supposed safety and solice in what the world has to offer.
Contrast this with the dove in verses 8-11, who came back for rest and safety. In Scripture, the dove represents the Holy Spirit; or Spirit-led person; in this passage, it represent one who may go and look around to see if the storm is over, but knows to always return to the Lord, and trust in Him for safety and rest, and comfort.
"And he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had become low on the ground. But the dove found no resting-place for the sole of her foot, and returned to him into the ark; for the waters were on the whole earth; and he put forth his hand, and took her, and brought her to him into the ark. And he waited yet other seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came to him at eventide; and behold, in her beak was an olive-leaf plucked off; and Noah knew that the waters had become low on the earth."
The meaning of the Olive leaf
The Hebrew word used here for olive means "something which yields an illuminating oil." Oil has spiritual significance as well, and usually represents the spirit.
Of course, the Olive branch also symbolizes peace; always remember that God does not look at His people as enemies.
"And he waited yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove; but she returned no more to him. And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month , on the first of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried. And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry."
Waiting on God's direction
Notice that even though Noah saw that it looked safe, he didn't leave the boat until told to by God. Waiting on the Lord is hardest when it seems safe, but as this story shows us, it only seems safe in our eyes, to our logic. And human logic always which falls short of God's wisdom.
"And God spoke to Noah, saying, Go out of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every animal which is with thee, of all flesh, fowl as well as cattle, and all the creeping things which creep on the earth, that they may swarm on the earth, and may be fruitful and multiply on the earth. And Noah went out, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him. All the animals, all the creeping things, and all the fowl--everything that moves on the earth, after their kinds, went out of the ark. And Noah built an altar to Jehovah; and took of every clean animal, and of all clean fowl, and offered up burnt-offerings on the altar."
The Importance of worshipping the Lord
The first thing Noah did after unloading the boat was an act of worship. How is your worship life? How is it while in the middle of a storm? How is it when the storms have done their damage?
"And Jehovah smelled the sweet odor. And Jehovah said in his heart, I will no more henceforth curse the ground on account of Man, for the thought of Man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will no more smite every living thing, as I have done."
You may recall that God cursed the ground in Gen 3:17, but here He takes it back. He acknowledges that man has an evil heart. "From his youth" implies that it's genetic, not learned; it's the way we are, at least until God works through us to make us more like He wants us to be.
"Henceforth, all the days of the earth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease."
God doesn't just restore life to the earth, He restores order to the world; the seasons are now lined up according to His plan. Always remember that God will use storms of life to bring order to your life, to bring about the circumstances that are best for you.
Link to original image, along with many other amazing photos of Hurricane Irene.