We learn the most about God during our most violent storms. Have you noticed that? In part because that’s when life squeezes our deepest doubts, sometimes those we’re not even aware of, to the surface. His goal? Complete freedom in every part of our souls.
I’m dramatically different than the fear-driven woman who left her tight-knit, Southern California community nearly 20 years ago to follow her husband quite literally across the country. For a job he quit less than a year later.
Some of you may be familiar with this part of my story. After a period of homelessness, God plucked me out of my mess, with the help of my husband, and deposited me in middle-class suburbia where I found stability. I would’ve been content to stay there, in my not-yet-healed but comfortable (at least, on the surface) state. But God wanted to take me deeper.
He used my husband’s unemployment, to do so. Initially, I did not handle my anxiety well. In fact, I felt and acted much like a frightened animal who’d been backed into a corner. Like a victim to my circumstances, and really, to my husband’s choices. That was, in part, what made the situation so difficult. While I’d entrusted my eternal security to Christ, for everything else, I largely relied on my husband and his paycheck.
And suddenly, that was gone. The idol I’d erected and fortified with every bank deposit had crumbled beneath me. My fear told me that the ground I stood on was shaky, unable to support me. But it wasn’t. In truth, God was helping me plant my feet on my sure foundation, which had held me all along, Jesus Christ. He was also uprooting a major lie that made it hard for me to fully experience His love and rest in His grace—that God had favorites.
Do you ever feel that way? That someone else’s prayers will carry more weight or that they deserve more blessings than you do? Or maybe the converse—that you’re the one who’s more deserving?
While I didn’t realize it at the time, deep down I believed every provision or protection our family received came because of my husband, and in spite of me. Therefore, it made sense to me whenever something good occurred. My husband was an honest, hard working man. A Purdue graduate who’d always seemed to make all the right choices and do all the right things.
Until that winter in Louisiana. Suddenly, his actions seemed so … irresponsible. Reactionary, illogical, and even selfish.
Would God still answer our prayers?
As I wrestled with Him over my inadequacies, God spoke to my deepest need, and it wasn’t to see myself as God’s redeemed and cherished child. Oh, that was important, for sure. But I needed so much more than an accurate view of myself. I needed an accurate view of God, my Savior and Redeemer, the One who covers my insufficiencies and who loves the druggie and preacher alike. (Rom. 2:11)
Throughout Scripture, we see examples of this truth: Without life’s storms, we might never discover the strength and security of our true anchor. Consider the disciples as they traveled, with Jesus, across the Sea of Galilee. By this point in their journey, they’d witnessed so much. Jesus feeding thousands from one boy’s lunch, casting out demons, and healing the blind. I imagine they watched each miracle in awe, maybe even slack-jawed, probably praising God the Father for the provisions through His Son.
Until the circumstances became more personal. Potentially deadly. Scripture tells us, while they were heading to the region of the Gadarenes, a violent storm hit. One commentator suggests their boat was battered by hurricane-strength winds. It dumped enough water into their boat, they’d begun to sink.
But while they frantically fought to survive, their beloved Master slept. Seemingly oblivious to their plight. Waking Him, (and I envision them shaking Him rather roughly here), the disciples said, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38, NIV).
Have you ever been there?
God, don’t You care that my marriage is falling apart?
Don’t You care about my pain?
Don’t You care that my child is struggling so horribly?
I imagine we can all understand how the disciples felt. But Jesus wasn’t unengaged or callous. He was using the situation to reveal some key truths I’m certain planted their feet on the solid rock of Christ just as surely as my period of chaos did the same for me. Through the storm, Jesus revealed, in a powerfully vivid way, that He was the Great I Am.
You see, the ancient Jews had heard stories of godly men empowered to heal the leprous (2 Kings 5) and even bring life to the dead (1 Kings 17), as Jesus had indeed done. Up until this moment, however, He hadn’t demonstrated His power over creation. According to Jewish tradition, only God Almighty “had absolute authority over waves and sea.”
This is why, once Jesus quieted the wind and waves, “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” (Mark 4:41, NIV).
They had encountered not just a Rabbi or even an anointed healer but God in the flesh.
It’s during our most trying circumstances that we discover who God truly is and learn to rest in that.
Can you share a time when God used a particularly challenging situation to reveal more of Himself? How might seeking to catch glimpses of His glory, who He is, during frightening seasons help increase our peace?
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 Keener, Craig S. “The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. (1993) InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL
For those following our chronological reading plan through the New Testament …