Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Praise Him...even in the storm

Sometimes life seems to just be one rough patch after another. It seems like you're getting kicked when you're down. These long stretches of one great challenge after another are often the hardest times for us to praise God.

In fact, many choose to blame Him for the troubled waters in which they find themselves. Some even go so far as to use their suffering as an excuse to turn away from God. Our human minds just can't seem to comprehend why we suffer when we try to do the best we can, the best we can by God and by our fellow man.

I wrote once to answer the question, Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?, explaining that it's not God who curses us with evil when we're trying to live for Him. It took me hundreds of words to get my point across, but a church sign I pass on the way to work every day sums up my explanation in less than a sentence, proclaiming, "When Christians serve, Satan attacks."

Still, even knowing the Devil is coming after us because we're serving Jesus Christ isn't enough to keep us from giving up under the weight of the seemingly never ending struggle. So where do we turn, and how do we find a way to persevere when we're drowning in nonstop suffering?
"35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 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?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." -- Mark 4:35-39

These four short verses tell us a lot on dealing with times of trouble.
First, notice that it was Jesus himself who suggested they "go over to the other side." Those with Him didn't choose the destination, Jesus had a destination for them in mind, told them to come with Him, and they followed.

But even though they were following Jesus, even though they were doing His will, He never promised them a peaceful journey. He didn't say, "If you come with me you'll enjoy a nice, quiet boat ride." He just said, "Let's go," and they went.

Then the storm hit, "a furious squall." This was not light pelting of rain, no drizzle, no sir. This was more of what some call a gully-washer, driving sheets of rain and whipping wind. That boat must have been thrashing to and fro, tossing about furiously as the tempest threatened to drown the whole boatload of men.

The disciples were probably asking themselves the same thing we ask ourselves when we're serving the Lord, doing what we think God wants us to do, and still times are tough. Why would He ask us to do this, to take this journey, and allow this storm to assail us when we're doing exactly what He asked us to do?

But let's think about what would have been going through those disciples' minds if the storm hadn't hit, if Jesus would have interfered and diverted the storm to make the going easy. Let's look at what might have gone on aboard the boat if everything was just the same, except there was no storm.

If Jesus was sleeping soundly in the stern, I can just imagine the disciples standing around the helm, glancing back at the Master and thinking, "Man, we sure are some great sailors. We've got such great control of this ship that Jesus can take it easy." Haven't you ever done that? Haven't we all said something along those lines when life just seemed to be clicking along without incident?

We have a tendency to take the credit for the good times in our life, seldom praising God for his mercy and grace that allows us those periods of rest. But how do we act in those storms?

In my past, I've dealt with the difficult times in two very different ways. Before Amanda was killed, I usually tried to fight through the storm myself, using my own abilities, asking nobody for help. Not even asking God to step in and give me some relief.

Imagine what it would have been like on that boat if that was the disciples' reaction. Fighting to keep the ship turned into the wind, to keep from being capsized by the waves, just fighting with all their might to only stay afloat. The exertion from the fight would have been exhausting, physically and mentally. It's doubtful their strength would have held up for long.

But that's not how they reacted. Instead of relying on their own strength and their own abilities, they ran for the stern where Jesus lay sleeping and woke him. They didn't understand why they had to fight through the storm, but they knew they had to call on Jesus as the whole boat must have threatened to break apart.

And what happened when they turned to Jesus? He calmed the storm.

"Quiet! Be still!"

That's what He said, and the wind and the waves died down.

And therein lies the assurance that we can all take, all who have trusted in Him and are promised eternal life in Heaven. When you turn to Jesus, no storm is strong enough to take you down!
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." -- Romans 10:13

That's what we need to remember! Even in the storms of life, we need to praise Him and thank Him and glorify Him! Jesus Christ will get us through the toughest of times, the direst of straits! And we'll come out the other side in a calm and peaceful sea...

So the next time you find yourself struggling to stay above the surface, call on Jesus. And know, that after the storm will come the calm, the peace and tranquility that comes from knowing the day lies ahead without suffering, without pain, and without tears.

Call on Jesus, and praise Him...even in the storms of life.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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