Have you ever been in a situation where the storm was coming down in torrents and God seems distant, uninterested, not in control, or slacking?
Maybe you’re in a storm right now and you can’t even see the other side of the lake because the waves are so high and the storm clouds are so thick. You feel hopeless, forgotten, abandoned, not in control.
You may have a head knowledge of God’s provision and power. You’ve seen Him work miracles in other people’s lives, but you falter in your faith when you consider what He’s doing in your own life.
If this is you, keep reading. God wants to speak into your situation.
Jesus Calms the Sea
One of my favorite passages of scripture is Mark 4 and Jesus calming the sea. It’s such a beautiful display of God’s power and sovereignty, even when our finite minds can’t comprehend what he’s doing.
Let’s set the stage. Jesus tells his disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. He’s tired after a long day of ministry and takes a nap in the stern. While he’s sleeping, a violent storm arises and crashes waves into the vessel.
The boat starts to fill with water, and the disciples have a freak out session. They say, “Teacher do you not care that we are perishing.” (Mark 4:38b)
They Don’t Know Who’s With Them in the Boat
As this point, the disciples are fresh followers and don’t understand exactly who Jesus is. Notice that they call him Teacher, not Lord. It’s the Greek word didaskale. It’s the same word that’s used in Matthew 12:38 when the Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus and asked for a sign. At this point, they believe he’s a good teacher, not God in the flesh.
Scripture says that Jesus “awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace. Be still!'”(Mark 4:39). The wind and the waves died down at his command.
That was it. Jesus changed their situation with three words: “Peace. Be Still.”
Did he really not care that his disciple’s lives were at risk? Was he sleeping on the job? How could he be napping when the water is rising?
Let’s look at this narrative from Jesus’s perspective. How could he sleep when his situation was seemingly life threatening?
Consider these three truths as a pattern for your own faith.
He Knew Who His Father Was
Not only did Jesus know the Father more than anyone, but he came from the Father. He knew the Father’s heart and affections towards him. He knew the Father’s character and was fully surrendered to Him. His trust was in the Father.
Some verses to consider:
“I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me” (John 7:29).
“…even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15).
“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me” (John 17:25).
He Knew His Authority
Just ponder this for a moment. The one who made the sea and created its boundary line is the one floating on it in a flooding boat. He knew his authority over the wind and waves because the sea was created by him and for him.
Speaking of Jesus, Paul writes, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16).
He made the very molecules of hydrogen and oxygen that formed covalent bonds that when grouped together created the surface tension needed to keep the boat afloat.
He Knew His Mission
Jesus knew why he was here.
How many times did he slip clues to his disciples about his coming death and resurrection? He knew why the Father had sent him into the world.
If Jesus’s earthly ministry had a tagline, it would be this: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
He had a mission to accomplish. A very specific mission that he laid out for his disciples in Matthew 16:21–
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
No thrust of wind or wave was going to stop him from going to Jerusalem and laying down his life for us.
If you’ve put your trust in Jesus, you know who your Father is. He loves you, cares for you, protects, and provides for you. Nothing is outside of his control. He knows the hairs on your head and perceives your thoughts from afar. He knows your comings and goings. He knows you intimately. He works on your behalf for your good and his pleasure. (See Psalm 139, Romans 8:28)
If you’ve put your faith in Jesus, you know your authority.
We have to be careful here, lest we walk a slippery slope. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” The ultimate authority is his, and we receive the benefit of his authority over creation and the spiritual realm.
In Jesus’s name, you have the authority or the authorization to approach the God of the universe with your requests. I’m tempted to use the word privilege because it seems like a nicer and less demanding word. However, the word privilege doesn’t fully represent our standing before God.
For example, as a teenager, your parents may have given you the privilege of staying out past midnight, but as many of you probably discovered the hard way, priveledges can be taken away. Priveledges have conditions, but God’s love for us in Christ is unconditional.
Our inheritance, our standing, and our positioning before God cannot be taken away, therefore the word privilege is an incomplete representation. The definition of the word authorized is “having official permission or approval.”
Here’s another example. You’re standing in the security line at the C.I.A headquarters in Langley, VA. You whip out your government I.D. card and show it to the security guard. He waves you through. As a hired C.I.A agent, you have the ability, right, and authority to be in that building, however, without proper credentials, you won’t even make it to the second floor vending machine.
Jesus, as our high priest forever, is our credential.
Consider these verses:
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Therefore, brothers since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Finally, you know your mission.
You may have specific and continual questions about what God is calling you to do. For instance, he may be calling you to be a missionary in Asia, but that calling or assignment may only be for a season.
It’s profitable to look at the general assignments God has given us that act like an umbrella over our specific and seasonal assignments.
Here is our general assignment:
We are to make disciples. (Matt 28:19)
Give thanks in everything. (1 Thess 5:18)
Don’t be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)
Be conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29)
He hasn’t left as orphans. If God asks you to do something, he’s already prepared the way before you. (Eph 2:10)
Going back to Jesus calming the sea in Mark 4, Jesus was the one who asked the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. If they had known who he was, they would have had confidence in getting there safely. Jesus’s mission success rate is 100%.
You’ve Got God in the Boat
While it may look like God is sleeping or slacking from your point of view, I promise you he’s not. Scripture says that He’s not slack nor does he sleep or slumber. (Ps 121:4, 2 Pet 3:9)
Instead, when we recognize who is with us in the storm, we can take great confidence in knowing He’ll complete what he started. Nothing is going to cross your path that is more powerful than He is or that is not ordained, foreknown, appointed, or allowed by Him.
You have something that the disciples didn’t yet have: God’s Spirit inside of you.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
A Storm is an Opportunity
As I think back over my walk with the Lord, some of the sweetest times of fully relying on his grace, mercy, and provision have been in storms.
Sweet? How can suffering be sweet? It’s sweet because we get to see the power of God displayed in our lives in an undeniable way.
You may be thinking, well that’s great that you enjoyed your suffering, but I’m been suffering for _____days, _____ weeks, ____ months or _____ years.
Can I speak to that for a moment? I may not have suffered in the way you’ve suffered, but I have walked through seasons of profound suffering that have lasted many weeks, months, and years. One season of intense suffering is presently my reality.
So, how can I rejoice? Because I know that suffering produces endurance, character, and hope.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Looking back on previous trials and seasons of suffering, I now have a view that I didn’t have when I was walking in them.
I love the journey that God has me on. I’m content in my situation. And had God given me everything I’d asked for in the season I asked for it, I wouldn’t be where I am, I wouldn’t experientially know the things God has revealed to be true in His Word, and I might have misused his provision. To be frank, God’s helped me dodge a lot of bullets. Maybe His seeming lack of provision is actually His protection.
So don’t trust in your situation. Trust in God, who works everything for your good and His glory. Trust in Him who spoke the world into existence. Trust in the One who can say, “Peace. Be still,” and it is.
*All quoted Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV).