The sea has earned my respect. I hold a great reverence for deep bodies of water. I grew up in a town that depended upon the sea for its livelihood. Over the years, I’ve watched watermen try to defy the strength of the sea only to return home with their vessel and their pride battered and broken. Occasionally, the dreaded news would arrive that a boat went missing. That a storm just suddenly swept in, and the waterman waited too long before turning home. Days later, the locals would find the empty boat and bring it back to the boat slip, the final resting place. More than likely, the boat slip had been in the family for generations. Within a few days, a fellow waterman would tie a black ribbon on the helm of the boat, in memoriam.
|Photo of Crisfield, Maryland by Aubrey Bodine|
|Photo of Crisfield, Maryland by Aubrey Bodine|
Due to my reverence for the sea, the story of the sinking of the famous HMS Bounty intrigues me. Trying to outrun a hurricane just to test or prove worthy seamanship perplexes me. As a young girl, from time to time, I would hear adults talking in that hushed conversational tone about a local waterman who met his demise by trying to complete a day’s work and beat the storm. Storms aren’t meant to be conquered alone.
Those who abide in God aren’t supposed to tackle the storms of life alone. The storms of life (distresses, troubles, painful experiences) hit when least expected and their powerful blow strikes us in the epicenter, where it hurts most: These tempests in life attempt to beat us faithless. The waves ram against our hull trying to throw us off course using force in devastating circumstances. In other ways, the storm rages inside us (depression, addiction, wayward child).
Jesus knows about storms. His band of 12 fishermen boarded the vessel on the Sea of Galilee at night. Serving the multitudes brought much needed respite and as any fishermen will tell you, nothing refreshes the mind and body of weariness like time on a calm sea.
“Dead calm,” a familiar saying among people who make their living on the water, I heard it mentioned all the time as a kid. Then just over the horizon when least expecting it, a storm rolls in with violence ready to destroy everything in its path. Suddenly fear sets in.
Storms Draw Us Closer To the One Who Controls the Storms
We feel that we are alone, in complete isolation during the storm, but not really, no never. Christ the constant beacon of hope remains on the ship waiting for us to “cast our cares upon Him” (Psalm 55:22). No need to go at it alone. Some of the disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, and John were career fishermen. Like the watermen I knew from my hometown, these fishermen labored on the sea their entire lives; they knew what to do during a storm. Yet, the gale force winds and the sea drenched boat rattled the confidence and the faith of the 12 disciple-fishermen, while Jesus slept in the stern undisturbed by the fury raging outside. The panic-stricken fishermen called for help, “Lord we need you.” Jesus woke, with absolute sovereignty, and with few spoken words, Jesus calmed the storm. The storm circumstance was an opportunity to strengthen their faith in the One they would spend the rest of their lives telling others about (John 17:20).
|Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee|
Storms Control Our Tendency Toward Self-Reliance
On the sea in Mark 4, when “the furious squall” arose on the lake in Mark 6, “Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them,” the disciples panicked. The disciples forgot who commanded them to the water both times: Jesus. All along, Jesus controlled the wind with words. We don’t become sanctified saints in one turbulent boat ride; for some, it takes a Jonah-like storm. For others, just the rowing against the winds rids of self-reliance.
Following God Guarantees Storms
J.I Packer exhorts “that following God’s guidance regularly leads to upsets and distresses which one would otherwise have escaped.” The two incidences in scripture when Jesus’ disciples were caught in storms prepared them for the tempest of persecution. Packer reminds us, “sooner or later, God’s guidance which brings us out of darkness into light will also bring us out of light into darkness. It is part of the way of the cross.” He calls us to do hard work for the higher good (for encouragement through song).
God-sent Storms are For Our Good
Perhaps, the storm in your life is a God-sent rescue plan. A rescue plan sent from a Father whose love is never ending, never giving up, unwavering, unconditional. “Until we see God-sent storms as interventions and not punishment, we’ll never get better; we’ll only get bitter. Some difficult circumstances you’re facing right now may well be a God-sent storm of mercy intended to be his intervention in your life.” The storm may serve as the means to get you to grab on to the life line thrown to you in the middle of this gale. Because at the end of the rope is the only life saving device you will ever need.
Know the One who calms the storms and call upon Him before, during, and after the storm.