Following Jesus Into The Storm


Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Matthew 8:23-27

Storms in life come suddenly.  If we saw them far off, we would take action to avoid them, and then congratulate ourselves on our great storm-avoidance skills.  And if we didn’t we’d know who to blame.  But when storms come suddenly, we get blindsided and panic.  We make deals with God, plead with Him, and make promises we have no intention of keeping.

But many storms come precisely because we are trying to follow Jesus.

The disciples followed Jesus into the boat.  Jesus got into a boat, and His disciples followed Him.  That’s what the scripture says.  And suddenly—“and” meaning the next thing the disciples knew—they were in a huge storm.  They didn’t see it coming, and they couldn’t avoid it.  They were simply in it.  They were following Jesus, and Jesus led them into a storm.

Let that sink in…Jesus led them into a storm.  When we find ourselves in the storms of life:  sickness, financial problems, job issues, relationship problems, child-rearing challenges; don’t we blame God for not showing us the storm, or not protecting us from it?  We look for sin in our lives, or lack or faith, or lack of prayer, or that we’re doing the “Christian thing” wrong.  But we rarely look at Jesus having led us into the storm.

When the storm comes—and it always comes—if we are living for Christ, there’s a very good chance that Jesus has led us into the storm.  Now, what reason would He have for doing this?  I mean, does Jesus enjoy watching us flail about and freak out in abject panic?  I think not.  I think He loves us more than we can ever know in this life.  So, why the storm?

Because we get comfortable, and start trusting in ourselves more than we trust in God.  We think that because we are with Jesus, that we are somehow equal to Him and that our special relationship with God is enough, that we’ve got this “Christian” thing down, and can live our lives with one eye closed and one hand on the wheel.  As Crocodile Dundee said, me and God, we’re mates.

God has to remind us every so often that although he calls us “friend”, He is still greater.  No servant can be greater than his master, and no pupil greater than the teacher.  If we call ourselves disciples—followers, we cannot make ourselves in any way equal to Christ.  There is no bargaining on this.

The disciples were in the boat, and the waves were coming in over the sides.  The water was rising faster than they could bail.  The waves were getting higher, the wind was becoming fiercer, and the boat was rocking almost to the point of capsizing.  And Jesus was asleep.

We ask “where is God?” when our ship is in peril, when we are in a storm and life is totally uncertain.  We thought we knew where we were going, like the disciples, but we’re not sure if we’ll even make it out alive from the storm, never mind reach our destination.  The disciples only wanted to sail to the other side of the lake (the Sea of Galilee).  For us, maybe that destination is financial security, or a better marriage, or a promotion at work, or any number of things we want and are moving toward.

These may be (and in many cases, are) objectives that Jesus blessed for us.  He told us we’d have them.  He gave us a Rhema word.  He opened doors, made the way straight, anointed us for success.  And now that we are sailing toward our goal, here’s this huge storm, and we’ve forgotten all about the objective, and ask “where’s Jesus?”  Jesus is asleep.

Just because Jesus is sleeping doesn’t mean He’s not God.  God never sleeps.  He never takes a vacation.  He is never too busy to hear us.  He is always alert and as powerful today as when the universe took form.  The disciples saw a man, their rabbi Jesus, asleep in the boat.  They knew he was a man of God, and they saw him perform miracle after miracle.  They’d just spent a whole day with Jesus in Capernaum, where he healed a leper, a paralyzed man, and Peter’s mother-in-law.  In the evening, Jesus conducted a healing crusade with hundreds, casting out spirits, healing the sick, curing infirmities.  It was truly breathtaking.

And now Jesus was asleep in a foundering boat in a storm, and the disciples forgot all the miracles, and woke Jesus to plead with Him:  “Lord save us!  We are perishing!”  They were so certain they’d die without waking Jesus, they they even forgot it was He who led them into the storm.

Jesus’ response was the classic line:  “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”  Jesus didn’t accuse them of having no faith, but just a little faith.  When we follow Jesus into a storm, then plead with Him that we’re not going to make it out, Jesus reminds us that we have a little faith, and a little faith is enough to move mountains.  Why are we fearful?  Jesus is with us, and He is God.  There is nothing to fear.

The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”  As we walk with Christ, our love is being made perfect—not perfect as in without defect, but perfect in the sense of nothing lacking.  Jesus’ love for us is more than enough for anything we need in this life.  It lacks nothing.  It is perfect unto itself.  When Jesus awoke, he rebuked the wind and sea, and as quickly as the storm came up, it was gone.

The disciples asked “who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”  They had not seen Jesus die and resurrect from the grave.  They had not yet seen his nail-scarred hands.  They did not know the price He had taken on for their souls.  But they knew He was a man with God’s authority, for the elements themselves were subject to His command.  They were reminded that Jesus is not just a teacher, a healer, a preacher of good words.  He is a King, a Sovereign, with power and authority over all things.

During our storms of life, we need only remind ourselves that Jesus is the master of all storms, and that His command is enough to calm the seas and wind in our lives.  He doesn’t require us to panic, and He would rather that we learn to weather our storms in peace and not fear.  He will arise in time and rebuke the storm, and all will be calm.

When we follow Jesus into the storm, we are reminded that only a little faith is enough, and when we come out of the storm, Jesus will be with us, our confidence restored, our humility recaptured, and our faith enhanced.

I’ve heard it said many times, that we’re either coming out of a storm, about to enter a storm, or in a storm.  There’s no Christian life without storms (in fact, if you don’t have storms, you may need to question whether you are really following Jesus).  Following Jesus into a storm is to remind us of His great love for us, and each storm gives us more reason to fully trust Him.

Thank you Lord, for the storms of life, and thank you for leading me into them.  May I use the little faith I have to live in Your peace, and let Your love, which lacks nothing, cast out my fear.  In the precious and holy name of Jesus.  Amen.

(crossposted from sgberman.com)