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In today's Bible lesson, we heard how Jonah refused the God of Israel's command to preach to the people at Nineveh and attempted to avoid God by boarding a ship sailing to the western Mediterranean. We also heard how God sent a storm after that ship, and how that threatening storm was understood by both the prophet and the 'pagan' sailors to be evidence of this God's displeasure. To me, this serves as evidence that things go badly when we disobey God. Disobeying God violates our design, and whether it is a natural consequence or the finger of God, in the words of Timothy Keller, "all sin has a storm attached to it."

But to say that our sins bring on storms doesn't mean that all storms are caused by our sins. 

I remember one pastor telling a congregant that her migraines were the result of some sin that she was harbouring. Now it is possible that sin was impacting her health. But it was dangerous for that pastor to such a direct connection (and accusation) without a process of discernment that involved her input.

When those sailors in Jonah's story were caught in a storm, they started asking questions before they jumped to conclusions. Through their questioning, they learned that Jonah worshipped a cosmic God who "made the sea and the dry land" and that in fact, he was running away from this very God. With this information in hand, it was clear to all that Jonah's actions were the source of the storm.

We need to be careful when looking at the causes of any particular trouble we are facing. Any alienation from God does have consequences. After Jesus healed a paralytic in John 5, he warned that man to stop sinning lest something worse happen to him. And yet on another occasion in John 9, when his disciples asked about the cause of a man's blindness he told them that the blindness wasn't the result of any particular sin, but was present so that God's glory might be revealed.

If there is a storm in your life, you might consider whether the storm is an act of God's discipline. After some reflection and prayer, you may also determine that there is no direct connection and that you are simply called to rest in God's ongoing care.


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