The Bible is full of lessons about storms, and recently, all of us have experienced quite a storm of challenges. However, be encouraged that Jesus has promised to meet you amid the storms!
“Immediately He (Jesus) made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side…He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.” Matthew 14:22-23 ESV
This event is a picture of life and the lessons we face because storms are symbolic of life’s circumstances. Storms are like problems in two ways: They come in different shapes and sizes and are unpredictable in their timing. You may see them coming, but things usually materialize in different ways than anyone could have pinpointed.
In this account, the contrary winds represent a type of storm. The winds opposed them, and that’s the kind of thing that often gets our lives stuck. These contrary winds give us a picture of life’s circumstances that we all face. They’re not about to ruin us completely, but they do two things: First, they exhaust us—your strength is drained and second, the goals you hoped to arrive at are blocked—you can’t seem to get there.
I want to set before you, based on this text, three things to remember when you’re stuck in a storm.
THERE IS PURPOSE IN THE STORM
First, decide to accept the fact that God’s hand is in this – The verb “made them” is a very strong word in the original language. It means to force the situation. Jesus compelled them to get in the boat. He had a purpose in this.
Jesus was not ignorant about what was going to take place out there. It’s no surprise to Him that the winds came up. Jesus made them get in the boat which is a picture of circumstances that you and I face where we don’t have any choice. We’re in a contrary situation, and we didn’t have anything to do with how we got there.
There’s a lot of difference between that and blaming God for the way things are. Jesus didn’t go up the hill and cause the storm. The Lord has put us in our circumstances, knowing full well what we would face, but it’s not because He designed the adversity. He is wanting to settle something in our soul.
Look at the bookend events in the text—the feeding of the multitude that precedes the storm and the tremendous flow of miracle healings that take place. The chapter is bracketed by miracles with this struggle in the middle. Jesus is showing us that life with Him isn’t just a grand continuation of miracles without times of struggle in between. You may be stressed by the struggle you are in, but Jesus sees you.
When Mark describes this event, he uses an interesting phrase. Mark 6:48 says, “He saw them straining…” He was sensitive to the struggle they were facing. The way that that word “straining” was used in the culture of the times was (1) to describe the tortuous struggle people go through when they are involved in judicial examination; (2) the distress of a severe affliction. It could be like a medical disease, (3) the vexing of surrounding pressure of circumstance; and (4) the torment that comes from satanic assault.
JESUS SEES YOU IN THE STORM
When we’re stuck in that kind of storm, we need to recognize that while we may be stressed by the struggle, we’re not outside the scope of the Lord’s vision or interest. That’s significant because He sees you, and He cares.
Secondly, when Jesus looks out over the lake, observing their struggle, He goes to them. There is the message that whatever struggle you or I endure, the Lord has not put you there to sink your boat but to settle your soul, and He sees and knows the right time to come. He’ll be there. Whatever you’re going through, the Lord knows. He notices you, and He’s on His way right now.
Thirdly, it’s always the darkest when Jesus shows up. This event takes place between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM, the darkest hours just before dawn. The disciples, experienced fishermen, had rowed for eight hours but had covered very little territory. This had to have been very exhausting for them.
JESUS JOINS YOU IN THE STORM
The Lord is on the way to help, and when we seem desperately uncertain of what will happen, He shows up. When He arrives, it changes everything, and He will arrive.
I want to ask you to join me in recognizing that when you’re stuck in a storm, the solution is the presence of the Lord. It is His presence that comes in your heart when you rest in the knowledge that He has a plan, in the midst of whatever you’re dealing with. It doesn’t mean He prepared the problem, but He can prepare you to deal with it.
Peace seems just beyond our reach and an impossible goal in a world-wide storm. The well-known Hebrew word for peace is “shalom.” As a greeting it does, of course, mean peace, safety, and tranquility. Yet inherent in the meaning of the word is completeness, wholeness, health, prosperity, fullness, rest, and harmony. Thus, peace is the wholeness that the entire human race seeks and desires during storms.
However great your struggle, you’re not outside Jesus’ field of vision or the scope of His interest. When He comes and meets you there, you’re going to find that while it looked dark, He shows up. It says that when He came into the boat, they were immediately at the other side. There does come an end, and when it finally comes, it comes quickly. It’s the getting there that tries our souls.
There’s no doubt that today as you face these opposing and challenging storms which try your soul, the Lord says to you, “The financial struggle may be real. The physical ordeal doesn’t seem to go away. Circumstances are opposing, antagonistic, and hostile, but I’m not distant. I haven’t forgotten you. I’ll show up on time. Your boat isn’t going to sink.”
Jesus is saying, “Whether this storm was just thrown in your face or hell is coming down the road, high speed, right at you, your boat is NOT going under. I’m with you. I’m bringing you through to show you the way of My presence and power.”
Jack Hayford is probably best known as “Pastor Jack,” founding pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California, where he served as senior pastor for more than three decades. A prolific and best-selling writer, Pastor Hayford is the author (or co-author) of more than fifty books and has composed 500 hymns and choruses, including the internationally known and widely recorded “Majesty.” Pastor Jack, who has just celebrated his 86th birthday, has announced his full retirement from all aspects of ministry. He and his wife, Valarie, currently reside in California as they enjoy this season God has given them.