- He was fired by a Christian college for his stance (and book) on a controversial issue.
- As an elder at a controversial church, he tried to moderate some issues and ended up as “a man without a church” for a season.
These professional tragedies set the stage for more personal and real struggles of his life. Within a single year his only brother suddenly died of ruptured aorta, two close lifelong friends died unexpectedly and he watched his wife die a slow and agonizing death from cancer.
These experiences led Jones to write a book entitled Beyond the Storm. In this book, he looks at four different storms that we come to face in life– death, terror, divorce, and illness. In the book, different people share their own struggles with the death of a mate, going through a divorce, being the victim of violent crime, and suffering through a long-term illness. The contributors to the book are all very different, but they share:
- An unshakable faith that God was with them through the storms of life.
- The certain belief that they were blessed in some way by the storms.
None of these people come close to suggesting that their taste of tragedy was GOOD-- it is never good to lose a mate, get hurt in the Oklahoma City bombing, get cancer or suffer any of the other tragedies talked about in the book. But all of the contributors agree God was somehow able to use these terrible tragedies in surprising ways to bless them and to bless others for good.
The perspective that allows us to see the working of God within the storms of life only comes with time and distance. But the testimony of scripture and of others confirms that God works behind the scenes within the tragedies of our lives to strengthen and bless us. When we are in the middle of the storm, all we can do is hold on in faith and hope. But we can do that because of our confidence in the God who is sovereign over the storms of life. Even things that are not good can be counted as joy as we wait for God to work His wonders.
The Book of Job (which we are reading this week) ends with God appearing to Job in the storm, and this experience of God puts an end to all of Job’s questions... even though those questions are never answered. Job’s final speech of book acknowledges that there is much in life that he can never understand, and he decides that coming to know the God of the storm is what really matters. The Message renders Job 42:3-5 like this--
I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!