“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ ” (Mark 4:35-40)
We all face storms in our lives. They’re inevitable, unpredictable, and no one is exempt. Whether in the form of an illness, emotional struggle, divorce, financial loss, bitterness, or even death, there will always be a storm that we must battle through.
The story of Jesus calming the storm in the book of Mark is a literal calming of a storm. However, the same truths evident in those verses can easily apply to our metaphorical storms today.
If you read carefully, you’ll notice that Jesus was the one who led them out onto the Sea of Galilee. It was his idea and he knew what was coming. Likewise, Jesus knows the storms we will face in our lives and we’re often led into them. Being obedient and living righteously does not exempt us from storms. Paul knew this to be true in his letter to the Corinthians.
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?” (2 Corinthians 11:24-29)
Even while spreading the Gospel and advancing God’s Kingdom, Paul had plenty of storms cross his path.
What happens a lot to believers is a sudden doubt. Even though they know how Jesus has been with them through previous struggles and trials, there is that moment of doubt and disbelief. “Where are you, Lord?” “Why are you leaving me alone through this?” “How could you let this happen?” The disciples, who just so happened to have Jesus in the boat with them, experienced this during the storm. Even though many of them were expert sailors due to their knowledge and experience in fishing, they saw the storm as too big for them to handle. They were without resources and without a solution. In desperation, they went to Jesus, who was sleeping in the midst of this furious storm, and pleaded, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Why are we so quick to believe Jesus doesn’t care? Why do we forget or not realize that he’s in the middle of the storm with us, and he’s mightier than any trial that comes our way? We can call out to God and question all we like, but He’s the Creator of the universe. He knows what He’s doing and He sees the big picture. Jesus didn’t need to be woken up by the disciples; he already knew they’d make it through. We don’t need to get his attention because he knows what we’re suffering and even why we’re suffering. This knowledge we should not expect to have so how can we not put our trust in the One who does have it?
A beautiful thing about the trials in our lives is that we’re not alone. We may feel alone, but it’s in those moments, God is calling out to us more than ever as He stands by our side. It’s through these storms that some of us realize how much we need to turn, or return, to Jesus.
In the book of Hosea, we see an image of a woman guilty of adultery. Even though undeserving, the Lord declares how He will redeem her. “I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)
Just like Hosea, we are sometimes led into the wilderness. It’s in this wilderness, a place of trial and temptation, that it can be very easy to lose faith in God. Yet He is still with us and it’s His plan for us to face these trials because He is leading us back to Him. When we focus more on Him and less on our circumstances, what we’re going through suddenly doesn’t seem to be so defeating and crippling. It’s the trust in God that will carry us through.
Many times in Scripture, we are told that God is our refuge, our stronghold.
“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:9-10)
“The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.” (Psalm 28:8)
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
In these verses, this truth rings true. Jesus does not always calm our storms right away, but he has a plan and always provides for his people. When we are faithful and keep our trust in God, He will provide us with a peace just like the calmed sea.
Whatever you are struggling with or facing right now, I just want to remind you that God is always present and attentive to your prayers and cries. He has proved time and time again that He is loving to his children, and the love He has for us is so grand, we can’t even fully comprehend it. Yet one thing we can be sure of is that He loves us enough to never leave us alone and to always carry us through any storm if we let Him.