Richard C. Statham
Senior Pastor; Salem Baptist, McDonough
The year 2017 may well be remembered in American History as The Year of Storms. In early fall, Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to the Texas and Louisiana coasts. As disaster relief teams from Georgia were preparing to head west to render relief aid another storm, Hurricane Irma, made its way through Florida and into Georgia. As Georgia Disaster Relief teams were initially preparing to help others they had no realization they would also be faced with a storm.
Jesus disciples had committed to “follow Jesus.” Their mission was to help him help others who were in physical, emotional, and spiritual need. Like us, they faced their own unexpected sudden storms in life. Storms come in many forms – weather, worry, relationships, financial, health, and spiritual to name a few.
Often in life, people are faced with sudden storms they have absolutely no warning of nor control over. It is a fact of life – storms come. It would serve a person well to have a storm plan in place – both physically and spiritually. It has been said, “the forces of nature are powerful, but He is more so – and He is present with His followers in everything they face.”
The preceding sentence rolls easily off the tongue when read but becomes more difficult when it is to be lived out.
The disciples traveling with Jesus were simply going along their way to the other side of the Sea of Galilee when a severe storm arose without warning. They were doing the familiar when the fury of the storm stirred the water, their hearts and souls. Concerning this storm, Barclay said, the storm “came literally out of the blue with shattering and terrifying suddenness.”
The disciples were gripped with fear. Their familiarity with the Sea of Galilee and the fact that they were afraid, tells the reader this storm was different than others they had experienced before. It was stronger and more fierce than they had previously known. Jesus, however, was neither fearful of nor threatened by the storm. That which causes us great fear is but an open door of opportunity for Jesus to reveal His majesty and power.
King Jehoshaphat of Judah was facing three unbeatable armies which had set their eyes upon Jerusalem. As the vast armies approached, the King took the posture of prayer and cried out, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chr. 20:12).
The Lord answered through the voice of Jahaziel and said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chr. 20:15). Jehoshaphat then instructs the people to have faith and trust the Lord by singing praise to The LORD for the splendor of His holiness. As the people began to sing and praise the LORD, He set an ambush against the enemy and caused the enemy armies to fight one another. The people of Judah were delivered – by the LORD.
Likewise, in the darkness of the storm the Christ-Follower should praise the Lord and declare the splendor of His Holiness. This is a testimony of one’s trust in the power of God to overcome, stop, or guide him through the storm which he faces. Recently Dr. Don Yarbrough, associate pastor at Salem, said, “People are either entering a storm, in the midst of a storm or just exiting a storm.” The reality is life is filled with storms!
Throughout God’s Word there are stories of people who were “leaning in toward” the Lord seeking to live a life of faith. The Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God,” yet faith does not exempt the faithful from storms. The writer of Hebrews declared, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The disciples’ eyes were fixed on the storm and their voices cried out against it – and nothing happened.
At some point in the midst of the storm, the disciples awakened Jesus and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Now their eyes were on Him and their voices cried out to Him. And then, His voice called out to the storm and it was silenced! The Christ-Follower’s voice directed toward the storm has no power, but the Christ-Follower’s voice directed towards the Son – Jesus Christ has great power.
James 5:16 declares, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The righteous man’s prayer is offered in The Spirit to The Son before The Father. The Godhead – Father, Son and Spirit holds all power, and prayer offered to them is powerful. The Christ-Follower is to cast all his anxieties on the Lord for He cares for them (1 Peter 5:7).
There comes that moment for each Christ-Follower when he must recognize storms are inevitable in life and that those storms will either defeat him or define him as a person of faith. The Apostle Paul said, “For our light and momentary troubles (storms) are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17).
As one matures in his faith he grows to understand that each storm that comes, though not desired, grants another opportunity for his faith to be stretched and strengthened rather than being snapped.
Questions to consider:
What storms have you experienced in your life?
What temptations did you face when they arose?
What was your response to the storm?
What should have been your response?
How have the storms you have faced strengthened you?
What lessons have the storms taught you about Jesus?