We live in some very difficult times, don’t we?
Terrorist threats; sickness; death of loved ones; chemical pollution; food poisoning; the constant threat of international war; marriage problems; weekly and monthly bills; trying to make ends meet; friends and family members in jail, or the hospitals, or in some way or another always in trouble; personal struggles and temptations; political games in Washington D.C….
On and on the list goes!
When we are surrounded and in the midst of the storms of life (and most of the time it often feels like we go from one storm straight to another), what can we do?
I want to share with you one of my favorite stories from the Bible about a man who went through a very frightening and terrifying storm. You are probably familiar with the account, but I’m going to go ahead and share it below:
Matthew 14:22-33-Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Notice with me some very important lessons from this passage.
You Triumph Over The Storms Of Life When You Are Aware They May Come At Any Time
The text tells us that this was the “fourth watch of the night” that these events occurred. What does this mean? William Barclay tells us:
“Matthew has already told us that when Jesus fed the crowds, he made them sit down on the green grass. By that we know it must have been the springtime. Very likely it was near the Passover time, which was in the middle of April. If that is so, the moon would be full. In ancient times, the night was divided into four watches – 6 pm to 9 pm, 9 pm to 12 midnight, 12 midnight to 3 am, and 3 am to 6 am. So at 3 am, Jesus, walking on the high ground at the north of the lake, clearly saw the boat fighting with the waves, and came down to the shore to help.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel Of Matthew, Volume Two, 2074 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrews Press)
The text goes on to tell us that it was during this time that the wind was “contrary.”
Sometimes, the storms of life may hit us when we least expect them. Often, it is when things are going well for us that we find the unexpected storms raging around us. That’s how it was with Job. Things were going very well in his life when we read:
Job 1:13-19-13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; 14 and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
What started out as just a normal day for Job quickly turned into a storm of life that would surely have destroyed many others (myself included I believe). God’s Word tells us that we can expect the storms, which is why we need to try and prepare ourselves for them. It is by living with the knowledge that we will have trials in this life (John 16:33) that we are able to prepare ourselves for them.
You Triumph Over The Storms Of Life By Realizing They Will Be Rough Before They Are Finished
Notice also that the text tells us the disciples had been going through this storm for quite a while.
Isn’t that how it is with a lot of us? I know personally that sometimes when I go through the trials of life I ask God, “Okay God, how much longer will this go on?”
Sometimes we may have to go through the storms of life before things get better. Just because things do not get better right away, does not mean that they won’t improve! Remember what the Apostle Peter (the same one here who had gone through many storms tells us:
1 Peter 5:6-7-6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you IN DUE TIME, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Look at those little words, “in due time.” The idea of the passage is that God will help us and we will make it through the storms “in due time.” Notice some of the different translation is fthe passage:
1 Peter 5:6 (CEV)-Be humble in the presence of God’s mighty power, and he will honor you WHEN THE TIME COMES.
1 Peter 5:6 (ERV)-So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up WHEN THE RIGHT TIME COMES.
1 Peter 5;6 (TLV)-Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may lift you up at THE APPROPRIATE TIME.
Our time is not necessarily God’s time.
For years, I have heard atheists and unbelievers argue, “Well, if God is all-good and all-powerful, then He would have the will and the power to defeat evil. Yet evil exists! Therefore, God does not exist.” While this ancient argument may “look good” on the surface, it overlooks the fact that God’s Nature shows us that He will one day defeat the powers of evil and suffering. Norman Geisler once wrote:
“The argument against God from evil makes some arrogant assumptions. Just because evil is not destroyed right now does not mean that it never will be. The argument implies that if God hasn’t done anything as of today, then it won’t ever happen. But this assumes that the person making the argument has some inside information about the future. If we restate the argument to correct this oversight in temporal perspective, it turns out to be an argument that vindicates God. 1. If God is all-good, He will defeat evil. 2. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil. 3. Evil is not yet defeated. 4. Therefore, God can and will one day defeat evil. The very argument used against the existence of God turns out to be a vindication of God in the face of the problem of evil. There is no question here that if it has not yet happened and God is as we suppose Him to be, that we simply haven’t waited long enough. God isn’t finished yet. The final chapter has not been written. Apparently God would rather wrestle with our rebellious wills than to reign supreme over rocks and trees. Those who want a quicker resolution to the conflict will have to wait.”” (Norman Geisler & Ronald Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook On Christian Evidences, 64-65 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
If you are facing some storms right now, don’t give up. Keep rowing in the knowledge that deliverance will come for God’s people:
Psalm 30:5-For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
You Triumph Over The Storms Of Life When You Learn You Have To Keep Rowing
I love the picture of the Apostles. They are rowing with all their might, fighting against the storm. One things this reminds me of is the fact that the only way we are going to make it through the storms is if we persevere and don’t’ give up. Sadly, I have known a lot of Christians who have become so discouraged and disgruntled with the difficulties of life that they have “thrown in the towel.” They say, “What’s the point of even trying?”
It is in those difficult times that we need to remember the heroes of faith who have made it through the challenges and storms and have emerged victorious. I think about some Christians I have known who have gone through some of the most horrible tragedies imaginable. They came through the storms! They made it when all else seemed lost! They were able to make it (partly) because they didn’t give up.
Have you ever struggled with the storms of temptation and guilt? There have been times when I have, and I have lost the battle and nearly succumbed to the storms. But during those times, I have been blessed to remember the ones throughout time who made it because they did not give up and/or give in:
Hebrews 12:1-2-Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The “cloud of witnesses” is such a powerful concept! Who are these “witnesses” that Paul is telling us to look to and remember?
“I thus explain the “witnesses” to mean spectators, watchers, not testifiers. The context seems to me to decide somewhat positively for this explanation. It is an altogether pictorial context; the imagery of the foot-race comes suddenly up, and in a moment raises before us the vision of the stadium and its surroundings. The reader cannot see the course with his inner eyes without also seeing those hosts of eager lookers-on which made, on every such occasion, in the old world as now, the life of the hour. In such a context nothing but explicit and positive reasons to the contrary could give to the word “witnesses,” and to the word “cloud” in connexion with it, any other allusion. True, these watchers are all, as a fact, evidential “witnesses” also, testifiers to the infinite benefit and success of the race of faith. But that thought lies almost hidden behind the other. It is as loving, sympathetic, inspiring lookers-on that the old saints, from Abel onwards, are here seen gathered, thronging and intent, around us as we run…But all this leaves faith in peaceful possession of a fact of unspeakable animation. It tells the discouraged or tired Christian, tempted to think of the unseen as a dark void, that it is rather a bright and populous world, in mysterious touch and continuity with this, and that our forerunners, from those of the remotest past down to the last-called beloved one who has passed out of our sight, know enough about us to mark our advance and to prepare their welcome at the goal.” (Handley C.G. Moule, Messages From The Epistle To The Hebrews, 39-40 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); London, England; no publisher cited)
Remember the ones who have made it through the storms to the shores of eternity. They did it by persevering; by not giving up. So have you sinned against God? Welcome to the club! What do you do? Repent of it and come back to the Lord in repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22). If you have stopped rowing then you need to start back.
You Triumph Over The Storms Of Life When You Row The Boat TOGETHER
Something stands out to me in this passage. The Apostles were on the boat, and they were rowing TOGETHER.
If I try to make it through the storms of life by myself, I’m going to fail. I needed my brothers and sisters in Christ to help me weather the storms and trials of this world. If I try to do it on my own, I’m not going to make it.
Oh, I know there are times when we feel alone. Like Elijah the Prophet, we tell God that are alone and no one can understand what we are facing (1 Kings 19:10, 14). Perhaps we, like the Psalmist, have declared:
Psalm 142:4 (CEV)-Even if you look, you won’t see anyone who cares enough to walk beside me. There is no place to hide, and no one who really cares.
When you feel that you are alone, remember that you aren’t. God has promised to never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and you have a family in Christ who loves you and wants to do what they can to help and encourage you (1 Timothy 3:14-15; Galatians 6:1-3). Just as importantly, consider that there may be a brother or sister who has been struggling and is also ready to go under the waves because of the storms they are facing, and guess what? They need you just as much as you need them!
By all means, strive to work together to face the storms. Don’t try to go it alone. Not only will you make it through the storms you face because of the help of others, but you will help others make it through their storms.
Friends, whatever storms of life you are facing, I want to encourage you to turn to Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God Who loves you and gave Himself for you (Galatians 2:20). He died for your sins, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Will you not today believe in Him (John 8;24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Him before men (Acts 8:37), be baptized into Him (Acts 22:16), and be faithful to death (Revelation 2:10)? Or if you are a child of God who has turned away from the Lord, won’t you please be restored to Him today by repenting of your sins and praying to Him for forgiveness (1 John 1:9)? Your church family stands ready to assist you in any way we can (James 5:16-20).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.