Storm Chasers – Part 1
The following article is adapted from my book, Through the Storms: Help from Heaven When All Hell Breaks Loose. You can order this book here or by calling (918) 645-9120.
Key Thought: Storm chasers are those rare individuals who run toward the storm—for the sake of others—when everyone else is taking cover.
Having lived in Oklahoma for more than three decades, Lisa and I have been through many active tornado seasons. In addition to the meteorologists with their high-tech radar systems, some of the people who receive significant attention during tornado season are the storm chasers. These individuals are outside looking for storms when others are looking out for themselves. While a few storm chasers may be self-appointed, reckless thrill-seekers, others are assisting the weathermen to know what to report, and hopefully, helping to protect others and save lives.
In life, there are some people we might also call “storm chasers.” These are individuals who come into our lives when we’re in the midst of the storm. Instead of pursuing their own leisure and comfort, they come to encourage, to offer emotional and spiritual support, and to help us walk through our storm.
Maybe you’ve been through a turbulent season in your life only to find that those you thought were your friends were nowhere to be found. Walter Winchell said, “A real friend is someone who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” Perhaps you’ve been blessed to have good, loving people offer support to you during a time of upheaval in your life, and maybe you’ve had the privilege of being a storm chaser to someone else. Maybe you’ve been able to bring stability, support, and strength to someone during a difficult phase of his or her journey.
The Apostle Paul was not only a man who had comforted many in their distress, but he was also a man who had been comforted when he himself was struggling. He referred to God as “our merciful Father and the source of all comfort,” and said that “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT).
On a related note, D.L. Moody said, “It seems to me the basest ingratitude if we do not reach out the hand to others who are down in the same pit from which we were delivered.” This principle so clearly reflects what Jesus taught: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). I don’t for a minute believe that God does bad things to us so that we can help others to whom He’s doing bad things. But life is simply full of bad things and when we’ve been through some of them, we have a greater capacity to show understanding and compassion (at least, we should) and to help others who are going through the same kinds of things.
Recovery groups have long understood that part of restoration to wholeness involves not just receiving help, but also then endeavoring to help others as well. What’s the bottom line? When God has helped you, don’t let it stop with you. Extend that same help toward others.
Again, the Apostle Paul himself had received comfort and encouragement from others. Let’s look at three of these instances.
Remember when Paul went through the terrible storm in Acts 27? After that, the ship was destroyed, and he swam to shore. It was cold and wet, and a snake bit him. From a circumstantial standpoint, it was a very, very difficult season in his life. When Paul finally was making his way toward Rome as a prisoner, we read, “…and so we came to Rome. The believers in Rome heard about us, and came as far as the towns of Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was greatly encouraged” (Acts 28:14-15, GNB).
I wonder how tired Paul might have been at that point. What was it about this “cheering section” that brought great encouragement to Paul? There was something about the presence of these believers showing love and concern for Paul that really ministered to him. Think about others who might be weary from their journey and their storms and see if you might become an encourager to them.
Paul described another difficult time in his life and gave great testimony as to how God helped him through his friend and associate Titus.
2 CORINTHIANS 7:5-6
When we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…
Paul mentions that there was trouble all around him—external conflicts and internal fears. God’s solution to this problem situation was to comfort Paul by sending Titus to him. Perhaps a friend has been sent to you just when you needed comfort the most. Perhaps now you can be sent to comfort someone else who is currently troubled.
A third time that Paul found encouragement is related in his final epistle—Second Timothy. Paul had a very special friend named Onesiphorus. When Paul was in prison, a lot of his friends decided to not associate with him anymore. However, Onesiphorus was one of those rare individuals who walked into Paul’s life when everyone else was walking out.
Consider how much Paul treasured and valued the love that was extended to him by his dear, faithful friend.
2 TIMOTHY 1:16-18 (NLT)
May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.
Maybe you’re reading about all these wonderful people who came into Paul’s life—the storm chasers who came to him in troubled times—and you’re thinking, God, I need a cheering section like Paul had. I need a Titus to comfort me. I need an Onesiphorus to encourage and be helpful to me. If God has given someone like that to you now or in the past, consider yourself blessed. And by all means, make sure that you take on the role of comforter and encourager toward others.
Lord, I pray for my friends who are reading this right now. If they are hurting and struggling in any way, I pray that the comfort of the Holy Spirit will be very real to them, and that you will help them connect with caring and supportive people. I also pray that you will help each one reading this become a storm chaser—to be a person who walks into the lives of others with grace, encouragement, and mercy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.