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. If this season of the Savior’s birth finds you drowning in the waves a furious storm, may this post give you encouragement. Take heart your storms won’t last forever.
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
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:
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.
2. 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.
Someone once penned these words,
Out of the Darkness
Out of the dark forbidding soil
The pure white lilies grow.
Out of the black and murky clouds,
Descends the stainless snow.
Out of the crawling earth-bound worm
A butterfly is born.
Out of the somber shrouded night,
Behold! A golden morn!
Out of the pain and stress of life,
The peace of God pours down.
Out of the nails — the spear — the cross,
Redemption — and a crown!
The most important thing you need to know about the storm is that a storm will force you to walk your talk. Trials will put the strength of your faith to the test. How do you survive the storms? How do you rest on the strength of your faith in the midst of the storm? Let’s take a look at Psalm 107. David gives you three simple things you need to do when the storms of life are raging. First of all.
“…in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end.” Psalm 107: 26-27
Have you ever been there at your wits’ end? The storm is so overwhelmingly destructive that you have run out of ideas? Maybe you’re there right now. Maybe you’ve done everything that you know to do and your marriage is still crumbling. Maybe you’ve done everything that you know to do and your children continue to struggle. You have been to every specialist, tried all kinds of treatments, and your health is deteriorating. After exhausting all your business knowledge, attending all kinds of seminars, borrowed against your home mortgage, you’ve done everything humanly possible yet your business is still failing.
If you are at your wits end in the midst of the storm, you have two options available. You can give up. You can throw in the belief towel and decide that Christianity doesn’t work. When my life is falling apart this God seems to be asleep on a pillow. Let’s just forget the whole thing. That’s one option. To be honest I don’t think that is your best option.
The alternative is to do what the disciples did in Mark 4. “They seek out Jesus and wake him up, crying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Mark 4:38
Not the most articulate “prayer” in scripture, but it was effective. In the midst of your storm, you should follow that example: Cry out to God, and keep crying out to him until the storm has passed. Listen to what David wrote, (v. 28-29). Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
When I hear people say, “I tried that. It didn’t work. I cried out to God for help, and nothing happened.” My question is always, “How long? How long did you cry out? For an hour? For a day? For a week?” God has His own pace, sometimes it takes longer. You need to pray as long as it takes to get an answer.
The results may not always be what we think we want, but we can be sure that the results will always work out for our good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In the midst of the storm, cry out to God, and keep crying out to him for as long as you have breath. He will hear you and he will bring you out of your distress.
2. Let God Guide You.
There is an amazing principle in the Christian life that I have seen many people forget. The principle is this: If you ask for God’s guidance, he will give it to you.
When we seek God’s guidance, He guides us. When we seek His direction, He directs. When we place our future in God’s hands, He takes care of our future. Listen to what David wrote,
(v. 30) They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
To their desired Haven. There’s a place where you want to be in your life, a place of peace, a place of security, a place of hope, and comfort, and rest. A place of joy, and love, and fulfillment. He can get you there, but you have to let him guide you. My problem has always been I don’t like that path God wants to take me on. I like shortcuts. However, the path that God leads me on has necessary potholes, trials, and lessons I need for the future leg of this journey. I just need to trust God to guide the way.
3. Remember to Remember God’s Faithfulness.
I began this post series by saying that I have known some people over the years who stopped walking with the Lord. Some of these are people in ministry, people who had experienced his work in their lives. And yet, for whatever reason, they chose to forget about God’s past faithfulness in their lives. When the storms of life came, they didn’t remember God’s provision in the past, they didn’t see any hope in the future, so they gave up in the present.
Here’s my challenge to you. When you’re going through the storm make an effort to remember all that God has done for you in the past.
David wrote Psalm 77 while he was going through a time of trial. Listen to his words…
“Has his [God’s] unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:8-12
David says, “When I’m going through a time of trial, I will remember all that God has done in the past, and it will help me get through this.” He says something similar in Psalm 107: 31,
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
David is saying, “Once you get through the storm, talk about it. Sing songs of thanksgiving to God, tell everyone you know about good God has been to you.”
God will get you through this storm like he has gotten you and so many others through the previous storms of life. When it happens, make sure that you remember to remember to thank him for his faithfulness.
Other posts in this Christmas series:
Do you find yourself this Christmas wandering, feeling lost? This post talks about how God leads us through the wilderness.
Are you feeling alone and desperate in this season of joy? How do you get back on track?
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