Scientists tell us that even hurricanes bring some benefit. Though violent, these storms purify the ocean by breaking up bacteria and bringing fresh oxygen. They also carry much-needed rain and replenish inland plant life. And they assist with global heat balance, and even replenish the barrier islands which would otherwise shrink and sink into the ocean.¹
But it’s hard to see any good in storms while they’re raging, isn’t it?
Like the disciples who once found themselves battling a severe storm. One of those sudden squalls that come up on the Sea of Galilee. With the wind and the waves so buffeting their boat, and unable to proceed, all seemed surely lost.
It was the 4th watch of the night, between 3-6 AM. That uncanny hour not quite day and no longer night when things tend to appear surreal. And that’s when they saw Christ coming toward them, walking on the water. And they were terrified.
But that’s often Christ’s way. He comes to us in life’s storms.
He sees the wind and the waves, and knows that we fear going under. Perhaps, like the disciples, grieving over the death of John the Baptist, we too have lost someone we loved, are smarting with the sting of rejection, or just feel bone weary and discouraged. In those moments he comes to us speaking words of life, hope, and reassurance. He comes to us riding on the waves, in the midst of the tempest.
“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid,” (Matthew 14:27)
And he calls on us to use our faith and trust him in the heat of storm.
He says to us, just as he did to Peter, “Get out of the boat and come to me in trust. I know the storm is rough and all seems hopeless. But come to me, and I’ll help you rise above the waves.” So encouraged, we step out in faith, determined to ride out the storm in confident trust and faith.
But the storm rages on. Some illnesses are never cured. Some marriages never mend. And death brings the searing anguish of separation. So overwhelmed by the continuing storm we take our eyes off Christ. And we start going under.
“Why did you doubt?” the Lord asks. “Even after I came to you walking on the water! Why would you doubt?” And he holds out his hand out to us, lifting us out of our doubt, out of the threatening water, and into the safety of the boat.
And then he calms the storm.
Christ saw the storm while he was still on shore, and he could have calmed it then. He could have calmed it before calling for Peter to get out of the boat. Or chosen to still it as soon as Peter started going under. But he didn’t.
He doesn’t always calm our storms right away either. Sometimes he takes us through them, not out of them. And even calls us to get out of the boat while the storm is raging.
Because he’s teaching us two very important lessons.
1. He wants us to see that the only thing we need fear is the weakness of our faith.
It wasn’t the wind and the waves that took Peter down. It was the doubt that crept in when he took his eyes off the Lord.
2. And he wants us to see him as God omnipotent.
It was only after going through the storm that his disciples proclaimed, “You are truly the Son of God!” They didn’t affirm this after seeing him feed the 5000, or after any of his other miracles. Their faith was still small and weak, so he had them weather the storm to strengthen it.
We may sometimes wonder why we go through trials and hard times. And why the Lord doesn’t prevent them or take us out of them.
But once the storm is over, like the scientists who discover new life germinating after hurricanes, we start to see that our storms have helped our faith germinate and grow too.
God allows the storms of life because they’re working good in our lives.
The Lord made his disciples get into the boat and depart after the feeding of the 5000. King James tells us that he constrained them to go. Some scholars say that there was a great kingly character about this miraculous feast in the wilderness, not found in Christ’s other miracles. And that carried with it certain dangers. First, because some of the crowd planned to forcibly make him king, (John 6:14-15). And as the disciples had already shown in the past their wish for this to happen, the Lord probably wanted to keep them from that temptation. But I like best what Warren Wiersbe had to say. “There are two kinds of storms: storms of correction, when God disciplines us; and storms of perfection, when God helps us grow. Jonah was in a storm because he disobeyed God and had to be corrected. The disciples were in a storm because they obeyed Christ and had to be perfected.” He had important lessons to teach them.
Lord, I pray today that when the storms of life hit, we will remember that the Lord allows them for a purpose. Either we need correction. Or he wants to grow our faith to the point that we come to see him as king of kings and Lord over all.
And may we learn to welcome life’s storms as lessons from the Lord, knowing that he is working all things for our good.
¹ 5 Things Hurricanes Can Do That Are Actually Good, The Weather Channel.