Juanita Alvis, born in Washington D.C. and reared in Virginia, now resides in Greenville, SC where she works in the Dean of Students Office at Bob Jones University.  Mrs. Alvis is an active member of Faith Baptist Church in Taylors, SC, serving faithfully as a much loved teacher of an adult ladies’ Sunday School class.  She has four grown children, all serving the Lord, and 24 grandchildren.

One of her daughters was widowed at age 23 and she herself lost her husband just 3 years later.  She subsequently enrolled in Bob Jones University, earning her B.A. degree in Practical Christian Training at the age of 56.  She has also experienced the birth of two handicapped granddaughters.  One was born with Down Syndrome and another was born with trisomy 13 and lived just 23 hours.

Mrs. Alvis has proven God’s provision of grace to be more than sufficient as she has allowed Him to perfect, chastise, and prepare her life through every difficulty He has chosen for her. Please read on as she very thoughtfully answers three questions, “Why does God allow storms to come into our lives?”, “What should we do in the storms?”, and “How do we receive God’s help and instruction?”



by Juanita Alvis

Jesus, after a long day of teaching and performing miracles, gave the disciples sailing orders. He told them to take Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. In the 37th verse of Mark 4, we read “And there arose a great storm of wind.” Jesus took His disciples into a storm. Located well below sea level with high hills surrounding it, that body of water is subject to sudden, violent storms. The difference in temperature between the top of the hills and sea level create downdrafts of great winds comparable to tropical storm conditions. The disciples, experienced fishermen, were accomplished sailors having navigated their boats in these waters through many similar storms; they could not have been surprised by this turn of events. We should note that they were OBEDIENT– right in the place God wanted them when they encountered this storm– and that Jesus was in the boat WITH them.

A storm is a metaphor that is often used to refer to the trials and testings of life. Storms are a reality. We should expect them as they are inevitable. The storms that come into our lives are very much like storms of nature: unpredictable and uncontrollable. They are always disruptive, and sometimes even destructive. Our storms vary in intensity from small disappointments and hurts to great winds of adversity. They may be physical or financial difficulties, emotional hurts such as rejection or depression, and may even be spiritual failures. In Romans 5 the word translated “tribulation” means pressure–stress, burdens, troubles–caused by internal or external pressure. The same word is used for crushing or breaking grapes in a wine press. 

Disappointments and difficulties come into our lives, tossing us to and fro just as winds and waves beat a vessel in turbulent waters. Peter tells us to “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” (1 Peter 4:12) Don’t be surprised when the wind whips up! Storms will come into our lives even when we are walking in obedience to God. Being in God’s will is no guarantee that life will be an easy road to travel with only sunshine in our skies. When dark, angry clouds of trouble obscure the path ahead, it is difficult to navigate. Hard places in life and storms at sea cause similar reactions in us: fear and a sense of helplessness because of our inability to control the situation.

The disciples, doing exactly what Jesus told them to do, found themselves in a storm they couldn’t handle. Mark 4:37b-38a paints the picture: “…and the waves beat into the ship, so that is was now full. And he (Jesus) was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.” The boat was full of water (no bilge pump) and the disciples were frantically bailing, rowing, and manipulating the sails to keep from sinking. And Jesus was asleep, seemingly unaware of their distress! It may seem to us at times that God is unaware of our plight, and we cry out with David, “Awake, O Lord. Wherefore forgettest my affliction?” Psalm 10:12


Storms are necessary. God created the universe and storms are in His plan for cleaning, refreshing, pruning of dead wood, and for growth. And storms are in God’s plan for His children. His ultimate goal according to Scripture is to conform us (change us) into His image, and He does that in several ways.

1. By Perfecting Us (making us mature)

a. Molding us to a pattern. (Romans 8:29) He is shaping us as a potter applies pressure to his clay to form a vessel.

b. Growing us up. (James 1:3) Just as the fruit requires cold days to produce good fruit, we need adversity to make us strong and sweet.

c. Purifying us. (Job 23:10) The heat of trials will separate the impurities from our lives so we can reflect His beauty.

d. Testing us. (James 1:2-4) Trials are sent to measure our maturity. These tests are not intended to harm or discourage us. Think of a child taking swimming lessons. At the end of the course, as parents and instructor watch, the child is asked to swim the length of the pool, not in hopes that he will drown, but to prove what he has learned and how he has developed. Maybe it will reveal his need for more strength, more practice. The Lord desires to bring us to maturity. A test will reveal that maturity, or it will prod us on to greater growth.

2. By Chastising Us. (Hebrews 12:5-11) God disciplines us to make us holy.

3. By Preparing Us For Service

a. To rely on His power. 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

b. To equip us to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Knowing the difficulties the disciples would face in the days ahead, Jesus was preparing them by revealing His divinity to them and increasing their faith in Him. This storm with Jesus physically present in the boat was a training session (preparation) for another storm to come just a few days later. No doubt the Lord allows storms to come in our lives to prepare us for what He has planned in the future.

The disciples, perhaps with more fear than faith, awakened Jesus. Mark 4:38b says, “and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Perhaps they wanted Him to help them row! Nevertheless, they did turn to Jesus for help. They sounded a little perturbed, chiding him for sleeping. But Jesus “arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”


Those in a sailboat who are confronted with a sudden storm and contrary winds have two choices of action: Resist the wind, trying to continue on their planned course and risk being capsized, or run with the wind, allowing it to push the boat, no doubt changing the originally planned course. We have similar choices when in the midst of a storm in life. We can resist God’s working or cooperate with Him and trust Him. We should run to God and to His Word. He is sovereign, infinite in wisdom, and perfect in His love for us. Because He loves us as a Father, he desires what is best for us, and we can be sure that He will not hurt us. Because He is all wise, He cannot make a mistake. Because He is sovereign, He has everything under control– He has a purpose in every storm! “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)

Jesus was not surprised by the storm that day on the Sea of Galilee, and He’s not ever surprised by the storms that assail us. He’s not asleep and we can run to Him for refuge and help in our storms because he has promised to be our place of safety. (Psalm 57:1: “…a refuge in times of trouble.”) Refuge from life’s hurts in the covert of God’s wings is like the shelter of a rock protecting from wind and rain at sea until the storm passes by. Someone said, “In the storm, cling to the only thing that is not moving–THE ROCK.”


God has already provided the help we need in our storms! He has given us His Word in which we find the answers to our questions and His promises which give us hope that we will survive. It’s in the Word that we get God’s perspective on our circumstances: His eternal view. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What is our present suffering in the light of eternity? It is in the Word, in His promises to provide and protect us, that we find strength, hope and encouragement to prevent despair. One of the many things God promises in His Word is His presence. Psalm 46:1 declares that He is “a very present help in trouble,” and the writer of Hebrews quotes God’s promise to Israel: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (13:5) It is His presence that gives peace in the midst of the storm. Like storms, trials do end, lasting only for a season. But our joy is not the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God.

If we are to endure the trials that God allows in our lives, we must first submit ourselves to Him. Give it up! Yield control of the situation to the one Who controls the universe. Stop resisting what He’s doing in your life and cooperate. We can’t control what happens to us, but we do have a choice in how we respond to suffering. RUN TO JESUS!

Thou art my Lord Who slept upon the pillow,

Thou art my Lord Who calmed the furious sea;

What matter beating wind and tossing billow

If only we are in the boat with Thee?


Hold us in quiet through the age–long minute

While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill;

What boat can sink when Thou, dear Lord, art in it?

What heart can faint that resteth on Thy will?

Amy Carmichael


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