“Life is a storm my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout, as you did in Rome, ‘Do your worst…for I will do mine.’”
~Count of Monte Christo
I know all too well the storms that may come into someone’s life. I have crohns disease and 22 major midline surgeries and countless “minor” ones. I have a child that was born at 26 weeks (three months in ICU, not expected to live), my mother died when I was 20 from a brain tumor which I got to witness for a year as body functions slowly shut down as the tumor grew. Fired by a step father, while still in hospital for surgery myself, before my mother died. Having to retire from a profession (which was my life) due to disability to crohns, 4 (four) different bouts with MRSA staff infection. Living in a lifestyle of drug addiction for 5 (years), and a divorce. I know what it feels like to been seen as a failure in the eyes of you children, to ask your child if you have been a good father, and to watch as his eyes begin to water as he turns his head to hide them from you. To tell him it’s Ok, you already know the answer, and he turns around and says “No, dad the last few years you haven’t been, what changed? I know what depression feels like and how real it can be.
In the past , when my depressive thoughts turned suicidal, I was really telling myself that I don’t want my life to be over–I want a reprieve from the pain. I was usually at a loss on how to get there. I was tired, frustrated, desperate, so my thoughts followed the path that has already been blazed throughout the years. I fantasized about death, intoxication, or some other destructive behavior that didn’t require a lot of imagination.
Storms are a fact of life. We need to know how to weather the storms, not only such storms as I just mentioned, but also the storms of life. Serious illness. Disease. Accidents. Catastrophes. Unemployment. Lost retirement savings. Death. Loneliness. Hardships. Personal problems. To mention only some. How do you weather the storms of life? From Jesus and his disciples we learn to weather the storms of life through prayer and faith.
23 Now when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.
24 And behold! A severe storm arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered by the waves; but he himself was sleeping.
25 Then they went and woke him by saying, “Lord! Save us! We are perishing!”
26 So he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” After he got up, he rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became absolutely calm.
27 Then the men were astonished, saying, “What kind of a man is this One, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
Verses 23, 24 state: “Now when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold! A severe storm arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered by the waves; but he himself was sleeping.”
A good number of Jesus’ disciples had been fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. They knew by experience that the Sea of Galilee was notorious for its sudden storms. The storms unexpectedly swept down over the water from the higher elevations of the surrounding mountains and cliffs. The storm on this occasion was especially furious. The high winds whipped up the sea into vicious waves. The waves swept over the disciples’ boat, spilling huge amounts of water into it, threatening to swamp and capsize it, and to throw them into the sea. The disciples were frightened and frantic.
While all this was happening Jesus was sleeping calmly in the back of the boat. We might wonder how he could sleep so calmly through such a storm while his disciples were so frightened. Here we see the genuine humanness and faith of the man Jesus. He got tired physically and needed sleep, just like we do. He slept so calmly because he knew his heavenly Father was with him and watching over him. He simply put himself into his Father’s hands, unafraid of whatever storm of life might overtake him. If only we remained so calm and trusted in our heavenly Father’s providential care through our storms of life, right?
From the disciples we can learn to turn to Jesus in our storms of life. What troubles or hardships or dangers have swept down upon us? How are we weathering them? Are they pleasant? Easy to cope with? No! When the storms of life are crashing down around our ears, they are frightful and painful. What do we do then to batten down the hatches? To bail out our sinking boat? To fight off the wind and the waves of adversity? We need to do what the disciples did–turn to Jesus. Pray: “Lord, save me from drowning. I am about to perish!”
As Jesus was present with his disciples in their storm of life, so he is with us in our storms of life. He does not forsake us, leaving us to struggle alone and to drown. He is with us to hear our pleas for his help. He is there to answer us in the midst of our troubles. He tells us as our Lord in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” So in our storms of life rely on Jesus to carry us through them, and if it is his will, to deliver us from them by putting an end to them.
This requires faith in him and his promises. This is what the disciples lacked in their storm of life. They were frightened. They saw themselves perishing in the sea. Panic stricken they woke up Jesus with their plea to save them.
Thanks to Jesus the disciples’ storm of life was over. His almighty, powerful word was sufficient for the task. His word was authoritative. His word accomplished what he said and commanded. He who during the six days of creation said, “Let there be,” and it was done, commanded the wind and waves he had created to be still and they hushed.
How is our faith during our storms of life? In the face of hardships and troubles and dangers is our faith strong and as firm as a rock? Or, is our faith no better than the faith of the disciples was? Would Jesus rebuke us also for the littleness of our faith?” Would he say to us, “O you of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
How confident are we when we must undergo surgery? How strong are we when we have lost our job, have no income, and bills are raining down on us? How firm are we when our loved one is dying and change and loneliness are looming before us? Does Jesus have reason to rebuke us? “O you of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
We will face many storms of life. From many of them Jesus will deliver us by the power of his word “Be delivered!” Some storms of life he may choose to let us suffer for some period of time to mature us spiritually and to draw us closer to himself. In this latter case, then, he is using our storm of life for our good in the end.
Storms happen to everyone, Matthew 5:45 we are told that we all have to endure the storms of life. This in no means make the storms waves crash any easier on the beach or the crashing of the thunder any less deafening. But it does help to know that we have not been singled out and that we are not unique, in that storms come into everyone’s life at one time or another. The rain fall on every one, and there is little we can do about it. While some troubles are due to our own choices and mistakes there is no perfect way to organize your life to avoid the storms that are sure to come.
It is also comforting to know the pain doesn’t last forever.
Sometimes, in the midst of the storms, it seems God may be silent. It may seem that God is unaware of the crisis in our lives, but we have his promise otherwise. (Mark 4:38)
When you are at your wits end in the midst of the storm, you can give up, or you can do what the disciples did in Mark 4 and cry out to God. If you ask for Gods’ guidance he will give it to you. God can get you to your desired haven, but you have to let him guide you, even if the journey takes you on a route that you wouldn’t chosen for yourself.
Leaning to follow the leadership of God is a life-long process and journey, but if we want to make the right decision, He will reveal the right decision to us.
When you find yourself in a storm, by all means pray that the Lord will remove it. If He doesn’t, pray that the Lord will help you to be a witness to those around you in the middle of the storm. We don’t want to be guilty of being fair weather Christians. In the midst of a storm, we certainly hope that God will glorify Himself through us by the way we handle our storms.
No one is exempt from the storms of life, but God is faithful and will get you through the storm.