Storms! Try as we might to avoid them, they manage to track us down. Whether they be financial storms, family storms, health, or whatever-else-life-might-throw-our-way storms, they vie for our attention in an in-your-face sort of way. Case in point—the COVID-19 virus. It’s in the air we breathe, is lying in wait on every surface—snuffing out lives right and left. Stretching us beyond our present wisdom and abilities.
Storms lure us into all sorts of emotional tumult and will leave us battered and exhausted if we’re not careful. They challenge our faith in God. Storms have a way of bringing out the worst in us . . . and yet, they can become the means to usher in the best.
Such was the case one evening as Jesus’ disciples set sail to cross the Sea of Galilee and encountered a literal storm (Mark 4:35-41 NIV). Jesus said, ‘Let us go over to the other side’. His statement was simple enough. These twelve men weren’t your average city-folk in a rented pontoon for the weekend—a number of them were seasoned fishermen by trade. Handling boats came second nature to them. The trip would be a cinch. So, when threatening clouds rolled in and winds suddenly picked up, they weren’t the least bit rattled. Routine preparations for inclement weather were made. Sails were securely lashed, all gear aboard was stowed and battened down. Nothing left to do but watch the sky and wait until it blew over. What’s more, they were the disciples of Jesus, the Son of God. Their Messiah was with them, sleeping in the hinder section of the boat. If they weren’t safe with Him in their midst, they weren’t safe with anyone. Let Him rest.
But within moments, they realized this was not your typical storm—this one was fierce. Ravenous. Winds pounded mercilessly against them, tearing at their robes from every direction. It whipped around the mast, all but ripping the sails free from their lashing. Rain pelleted their faces and hands like BBs. Monstrous waves swelled high above and opened their mouths wide to swallow them up. The boat almost capsized with the violent pitching and rolling. Those on board held on for dear life, lest they be tossed around like ragdolls, or plunged overboard into the rolling deep. This storm was furious and of hurricane proportions. It was the perfect storm . . . perfect for challenging their faith.
Certain disciples on board may not have been able to distinguish the bow of the boat from the stern, but by the time water reached their ankles, they instinctively knew to grab any pot within reach. The adrenaline rush no doubt gave them super-human strength as they bailed like madmen. Vessel after vessel of water tossed overboard crashed against walls of water gushing in upon them. Sea spray blurred their vision. It rushed their nostrils. Even the most skilled seamen lost all bearings and couldn’t discern water from sky in the pandemonium. Panic crept into hearts as they realized their best efforts weren’t a match for the violence of the storm. Can you imagine the confusion of thoughts, the questions . . . the fear gripping them?
Their eyes shot to Jesus. Between flashes of lightning, they saw him still curled up on a pallet. How could He sleep, when the boat was nearly swamped? He who had power to perceive the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts, couldn’t He sense that their lives were in grave danger? If they weren’t safe with Him, were they safe at all? Someone needed to wake Him. Ask Him to save them if He could . . . if He would.
'Master, don’t you care if we drown?'
Their words were lost in the howling wind, but the blow of them was felt in the heart of their Savior. Jesus arose. He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The storm ceased. Violent waves melted. Not even a breeze stirred as His sad eyes scanned the faces of his exhausted disciples. Some stood with arms hanging heavy at their sides, their robes and tunics tangled about their bodies and legs like shrouds. Others had collapsed onto the swamped deck, their knees too weak to hold them up. Water glistened in the moonlight as it dripped from their hair and beards.
‘Why are ye so afraid?’ He asked. ‘Do you still have no faith?’
Jesus’ words cut to the heart of the matter. The disciples’ faith had been tested and they came up wanting. Condemnation sneered. Shame moved in to strike its deadly blow.
And yet, an amazing thing occurred. Their focus had shifted. The ravaging winds, the giant waves, which moments before nearly devoured them, seemed forgotten. Condemnation and shame were brushed aside. Fear turned to awe at the Man standing before them. They whispered one to another, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him?’. They thought they knew him. They’d seen Him cleanse lepers, heal the sick, and command demons to leave. He had even raised the dead! But this . . .
In that instant, fresh revelation broke in. A new dimension of the One they thought they knew was unveiled. As a result, their hearts thudded in their chests with a different kind of fear. All else became second place.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8). As we no doubt face more of these end-time storms—some of epic proportions—we must realize that each brings with it, an invitation—an invitation to push aside all else and discover a greater depth to our magnificent God. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm (Ps. 33:8-9). Whatever ‘perfect storm’ we face becomes that door to encounter His glory. It’s the place where we experience afresh for ourselves, the intensely-personal Lord over every storm in our lives. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33 AMPL).