November 30, 2017
It isn’t easy to have faith when the storms of life rage. When things go smoothly we usually can profess our faith with no problem, but when troubled times happen our faith is tested. Do we truly believe in the bad times what we profess in the good times? Unfortunately, the storms in life can cause our faith to falter. Those storms can come in the form of disease, job-related problems, marital troubles, concern for our children, or even generally being discontent with life. The disciples were no different than we are. Even though they talked with Jesus face to face and saw His miracles they still faltered in the storm. One day Jesus got into a boat and He said to His disciples “…Let us pass over unto the other side.” Mark 4:35b. Jesus was asleep when a storm began. This shouldn’t have been a problem because some of the disciples were very experienced fishermen and shouldn’t have been intimidated by a storm at sea. Yet, they were afraid. Did they hang onto His promises? He said they would sail across the sea, but He didn’t say “unless a storm comes up”. Instead of trusting Him they saw the storm instead of the promise. The wind blew and the waves pounded their ship and Jesus was calmly sleeping. They ran to Him and fearfully accused Him of not caring! “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Mark 4:39-40. Do you have faith in Him to calm the storms you face in this life? Do you see the storm instead of the promise that He will see you safely through? Jesus rebuked the wind so His disciples could safely weather the storm and He will surely see you through turmoil in your life.
It would be nice if once we accepted Christ for our salvation that life would become easy. No suffering, no trials, no mourning. But that’s just not the way it works. Jesus told His disciples, and us, that storms would happen. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Many Christians, even ones who have professed faith for many years, become discouraged when things go wrong. People like to blame God for problems, but the blame is misplaced. Satan is the one to blame. God promises peace in spite of trials and faith in Him is the way to find that peace. I have a small circle of friends and in the past few weeks there has been much grief among these lovely Christian people. My heart breaks for them and I pray, but their courage and the way they’ve faced their grief is a testimony of faith. In faith I pray for my friends and family and I know that Jesus is with each one of them through these storms. The loss of loved ones is the cause of distress in this life, but there are many other trials we face. My children and grand-children are all facing some troublesome times and I pray for them all. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. I’m also facing some health problems and because of past storms I’ve faced I can go through this one with a peace that passes understanding. Our hope is in Jesus. When people blame Jesus for problems, I wonder if they also praise Him for blessings? It’s easy to be blinded by troubles, but there is always a blessing if we look. For instance, my daughter works until well past dark and her drive home can be a little dangerous. She travels on eight miles of rural road which has no cell service over much of it. Deer can be a problem, but so can flat tires. On her way home one night the dashboard light came on telling her a tire was low. She was able to make it all the way home but when she got out of her pickup she could hear the air flowing out of the tire. There was a large screw that had punctured it. I could only praise God because He brought her home safely. She wasn’t stranded in the dark alone with no cell phone service so she could call for help. Praise God! Even when the blessing isn’t so obvious there’s always a blessing if you look, even in a major storm.
The first Jewish Christians faced persecution and many trials. The persecution in Jerusalem was so intense that most of them left and were scattered to many places. Their tribulations would only get worse as the Roman persecution was about to begin. Peter wrote to those Christians to encourage them. He reminded them of their hope which was in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and that their inheritance was in Heaven. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: ” 1 Peter 1:6. He urged them to rejoice because of the inheritance they could look forward to in spite of the heavy trials (temptations) they faced. Like those early Christians, the storms we face are only for a season. No matter what the outcome may be in this life, we have the assurance of eternity in Heaven because of our faith in Jesus Christ. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9. On this side of Heaven we will face many storms and testing of our faith. Peter talks of the “trial of your faith” and that’s something we face every day. That may mean being mocked by friends and family because of our faith, or bravely facing a devastating illness, or dealing with grief that comes from the loss of a loved one. None of us enjoy being “tried with fire” but trials help us to grow in faith. If we glorify God through whatever storm we face we will give a strong witness to people around us. You will also be better able to help a fellow Christian through the storms they face because you will have weathered storms and are stronger because of them.
The Apostle Paul knew all about the spiritual growth that comes from facing storms. He faced beatings, shipwrecks, arrest, rejection, and much more as he spread the Gospel and his faith just grew stronger. He knew the importance of faith in times of trial. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2. The strength to face storms comes through our faith in Jesus Christ. If we have peace with God then we’ll learn to trust Him more. There are lessons we learn as we go through the storms of life and even though we don’t enjoy the turmoil we can find a reason for them if we look. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:3-5. Leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit will strengthen you.
We can’t talk about the storms in life without talking about Job. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.” Job 1:1. Job was a prosperous man who had a large family and he loved the Lord. Satan is never happy when someone loves the Lord and he asked God’s permission to test Job. God didn’t send the troubles that Job would face, but He did allow them. He knew that Job’s faith was strong and that anything Satan would use to try to break him would only make him stronger. So Satan began his assault. He caused the death of Job’s children, the loss of his livestock, and an ugly disease of boils that covered his body. To add to his misery some friends came and they weren’t at all helpful and his wife was less than understanding. “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” Job 2:9. Job went through some bad times and the advice he got was depressing. Eventually Job recounts all the storms he faced but was able to say “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27. That’s the bottom line. No matter what storms we face the fact is that our Redeemer lives, Because He lives we will live eternally with Him after our life on this earth is over. Job looked forward in faith to redemption through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and we look back in faith to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for our redemption. Job listened to his friends but didn’t take their advice to heart. He stood upon his faith in God and that’s a lesson we can learn from his experience. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5. The wisdom of men will always fail, but the power of God can always be trusted.
The storms in life will either make you stronger or cause you to break. Have faith in God and He will see you through each storm.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.