A friend from my days at the seminary and I were catching up on life. We talked about scheduling a “family reunion” of sorts to get back together with some of the others we struggled with on this journey through the gauntlet of studies, fieldwork, internship, placement day and finally graduation. We noticed something rather alarming: many of the classmates are no longer in the ministry and some are no longer walking with the Lord. How can the fire that burned so bright in their hearts back then have been snuffed out in just a few short years?
There are some reasons. Life is hard and many struggles, to keep on top of the storms. Some people crumble under the weight of the ministry of their congregations. No amount of faithful service could overcome; they’re discouraged with the church. Others collapsed because someone close to them died. The pain of that loss was devastating. Still, other people surrendered when their marriage crumbled.
In this post, we will learn how to handle the storms of life. In the first section of this two-part message, we will study the storms of life. The second post will give you the needed tools to navigate through the storms of life.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE STORMS OF LIFE
- Storms happen to everyone.
At a fundamental level, this makes sense. However, when the storm forms on the horizon logic goes out the window, it is one thing for the storms to happen to someone else but this shouldn’t be happening to me. We rationalize that we don’t deserve this. Jesus would remind us of a different reality. He said, “He [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45
We are all familiar with the wind and waves of the storm. In life, we have had to endure the storms of life. To be honest, I have tried to reject this concept in my personal life. Does this principle sound familiar? I organized my life a certain way: If I just get my income to a certain level, or if I get a handle on my relationships, and if I manage my schedule, once all those areas of my life are aligned I can prevent the storms. Come closer; it doesn’t work that way. The rain will still come. The storms will still happen. And they will happen to everyone.
In August of 2017, what happened to Houston is a prime example. People planned. The residents gathered provisions. Those Texans did all the hurricane preparedness steps, but no one could imagine the devastation that would occur. No one could predict the severity of the storm. The same is true in life. You can prepare for life’s inevitable storms, but you can’t predict when and how bad the storms will be.
Obviously, some of the storms we face are the result of our sinfulness and our own bad decisions, but many are not.
The first thing you have to remember about the storm is that storms happen to everyone. Now, if your bad behavior has caused the storm in your life, obviously you need to change your behavior. But if it’s not your fault, then you need to accept the fact that storms happen to everyone. The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
The second thing we need to know about the storm is:
- The pain doesn’t last forever.
If you’re going through the storm of divorce right now, you need to remind yourself that it won’t hurt this much forever. If you’ve lost someone you love, you need to tell yourself that the depth of the emptiness of your loss won’t last forever. If you are battling with depression, that sorrow and the emptiness will not last forever. There may be damage to deal with, you may have to pick up the pieces and move on, you may have to rebuild your life, but the pain that is caused by the suddenness of the storm will not last forever.
There’s another thing you need to know about the storm.
- Sometimes, in the midst of the storm, God seems to be silent.
In Mark 4 there’s a story about a storm. Jesus and his disciples were on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee, and suddenly a massive storm arose, the Bible called it “a furious squall” and began to rock the ship. The waves were crashing against the vessel to the point that it almost capsized, and the disciples were convinced that they were about to die. It was a ferocious storm, and they all panicked.
Where was Jesus in the midst of this? Mark tells us, “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” Mark 4:38
I love the little detail that Mark adds. Jesus was asleep…on a cushion. In other words, while the disciples were staring death in the face, he was sleeping comfortably on a pillow!
Of course, we know how the story ends. Jesus calmed the storm, and they made it safely to the other side of the sea. But that doesn’t change the fact that in the midst of the storm, he seemed to be unaware of the crisis.
There will be times in your life when it seems like God isn’t paying attention to what is happening to you. There will be times when God is frustratingly silent. During these times, all you have to cling to is your faith.
When we read the story of the disciples panicking in the midst of the storm, we tend to think, “How foolish of them. Why would they be afraid? Jesus was right there with them, didn’t they know he would take care of them?
“The same can be said about us: How foolish we are to be afraid during the storm. Jesus is right here with us. Don’t we know that he will take care of us?” After all, he said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
It may seem that God is unaware of the crisis in our lives, but we have his promise otherwise. We have his promise that he knows every detail of our lives, and he is with us every step of the way. The same God who gave His Son as a ransom to save you will never abandon you in your hour of deepest need. Next Wednesday, the follow-up post, “Three Ways to Navigate the Storms of Life.”
The other post in this short two-part series: