We have recently watched Hurricane Harvey sweep through south Texas blowing down buildings like they were a mere house of cards. By the time you read this, we will have seen record-setting Hurricane Irma churn up the entire state of Florida and possibly blow her mighty winds in North Augusta.

These storms are devastating enough with plenty of time to prepare for them. I often wonder how surprised previous generations were when they were victims of a storm without the help of satellite images or 24-hour news. As I write this, it is reported that 25% of the population of Florida is evacuating their state. How deadly would this storm be if no one knew it was coming or if it was too late to evacuate?

It’s scary to think about.

We are often surprised by the storms of life. I’ve learned over the years that one phone call can drastically alter your day – even your life. I can recall many instances when I’ve answered the phone to hear, “It’s cancer,” or “There’s been an accident,” or “The house is on fire.”

I’m positive you can recall vivid moments when your world was turned upside down. Suddenly, unannounced, unexpected news totally from left field rocked your world. You may have done one of several things. You may have cried out to God for help. You may have sworn vulgarities at God for letting it happen. You may have even questioned God’s existence. “If there really is a God, He wouldn’t let this happen!”

When I think of how to react to these storms, I think of a few Bible characters. Jonah was in a great storm on the Mediterranean Sea and the ship was about to break up (Jonah 1:4). When the crew found out Jonah was running from God, they tossed him overboard. The storm calmed and Jonah hitched a ride in the belly of great fish. (This was way before Uber.)

The apostle Paul was in a great storm in the Mediterranean Sea too (Acts 27). The ship with 276 men ran aground and crashed into a reef breaking the ship into pieces. Thanks to Paul’s prayers and encouragement, all of the men survived.

Jesus and His disciples were in a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus was asleep while the boat was being covered by the waves. The disciples woke Jesus up and said, “We’re dying here! Can’t you do something?” Jesus got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and everything calmed down.

We don’t always know when storms will appear in our lives. But we do know who can calm the storms.

On the day my mother died, my nephew called me and told me to go to the hospital immediately. Within an hour or so, she was gone. If you had told me that morning that I would be motherless before sunset, I would have told you there’s no way. But I was. That day and the days to follow were dark and stormy. I chose to cry out to God for help and mercy through the storm and He answered.

Sometimes God diverts the storms. Sometimes God allows the eye of the hurricane to sweep over you. Why? I don’t know. But I do know how to survive storms. Like Jonah and Paul, we must choose faith. Jesus is Lord over the winds and the sea – and so much more. We must look to Him for help, and mercy as we ride out the storms of life.