I live in the Sunshine State, where oddly enough, summer is actually storm season. While the rest of the country is thrilled to finally get out in the fresh air and warm sun, we’re hunkering down in preparation for tropical storms and hurricanes — or the daily thunderstorms that seem to come out of clear blue skies. Almost every afternoon, for an hour or two, the winds start blowing and the clouds turn black and torrential rains fall, flooding the streets and knocking out our electricity. Thunder, lightning, zero visibility. It can be terrifying when you’re new to it all — or if you’re driving on the interstate when it hits.
This summer we’re reading the Gospel of John together. (See The 411 on Summer in the Son.) In John 6:16-24, Jesus’ disciples got caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. And though they were experienced fishermen, they found it a terrifying ordeal. But they learned some powerful truths that day, truths that sustained them through many storms to come. Truths that I think we can learn from as we face the toughest kind of storms — challenges, difficulties, hardships, trials, tests of our faith — today.
1) Sometimes our storms are sent by God — or rather, He sends us into them. On purpose. Not because He forgot or wasn’t paying attention or got caught off guard. He’s never surprised by stormy weather. He is sovereign — over the wind and the waves and over us and our circumstances. Matthew and Mark also tell the story of the storm, but they both describe Jesus as sending His disciples on ahead. The Greek word used for “send” here is “anankazo,” meaning He compelled them or forced them to go (while He went alone into the mountains to pray). He deliberately, knowingly sent them right into a storm. Because He had a plan and a purpose. It wasn’t their fault that they got caught out there. And it certainly wasn’t evidence that Jesus had abandoned them. Just the opposite! He was leading them every step of the way.
“You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.” — Corrie Ten Boom
2) It’s in the storms that we see the Son most clearly. We see Him for who He really and truly is. That’s at least one purpose He has for allowing (or sending) us storms. In this case, the disciples had just witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 and STILL didn’t understand who Jesus was (Mark 6:51-52). It wasn’t until they were shaking with fear and looked up to see Him walking out to them across the water… “Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.'” (Matthew 14:33)
“When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life. Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.” — Warren Wiersbe
3) If we focus on the wind and the waves, we’ll get soaking wet — and start sinking quickly. But if we fix our eyes on Jesus, our steps become firm. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that it was during this storm that Peter took a leap of faith — right out of the boat — and walked on water himself… only to falter, when he started looking at his circumstances instead of his Savior. But when he turned back to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, save me!” the Scripture says: “IMMEDIATELY Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” (Matthew 14:31)
4) Storms don’t last forever — and our Savior promises that He will see us safely to the other side. When the disciples had seen what Jesus wanted them to see — about themselves, about Him — and when they’d been tried and tested and taught and strengthened in their faith, the storm passed. It was over as quickly as it began. And they found themselves in a whole new place. “Immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” (John 6:21)
“He knows when we go into the storm, He watches over us in the storm, and He can bring us out of the storm when His purposes have been fulfilled.” — Warren Wiersbe
I don’t know about you, but I’m facing some storms in my own life right now. Honestly they’re smaller than others I’ve been through before. But big enough to rattle me. Make me anxious and irritable. My heart aches desperately for some of my friends and family members who are facing epic storms right now.
But the One who commanded the wind and the waves: “Peace! Be still…” (Mark 4:39) speaks those same words to my heart today.
He walks beside me. Beside my friends, beside my loved ones.
We’re holding on tightly to His hand.
This Week’s Assignment:
For those who are participating in Summer in the Son — Virtual VBS For GrownUp Girls:
Read John Chs 6-7. Take your time and really immerse yourself in the Word. (For tips on how to get the most out of your Bible study time, see Five Simple Ways to Focus on the Words You Read.)
Memorize John 6:35.
I’d love to hear from you: What have the storms in your life taught you?