Jesus Is In Your Storm
When my girls were young, one of the lessons that I wanted to teach them was how to face their fears. And one of the earliest leaps of faith that I wanted them to take was to jump into the swimming pool. I’ll never forget the day when Abi took her first leap off of the diving board. I was treading water in the deep end and she was standing on the edge of the diving board. “Jump Abi…I’m here, you have nothing to fear.” I repeated this three times. And then it happened, she finally jumped, but not just into the deep end, but on top of head. She was never in danger of drowning, but I nearly did. She faced her fears, I nearly faced my funeral!
All of us know the reality of fear and we know what it can do to our lives. Fear of failure can keep the dream of opening your own business from ever becoming a reality. Fear of disappointing or not meeting the expectations of others, can keep you from developing meaningful relationships. Fear of giving up control can keep you from doing what God wants you to do. Fear does not merely rob us of our dreams, it can keep us from being who God wants us to be.
Think about how many people spend life on the edge of opportunity, really wanting to jump, but never having the courage to jump. Instead they settle to experience life vicariously through the boldness of others. The prefer to play it safe rather than to take a risk. For fear of the worst things that might happen, many people never experience the best things that can happen.
The deeper you dig in your New Testament, the more you will discover how committed Jesus was to the spiritual growth of His followers. His 12 disciples were some of the most imperfect people you will ever meet. They were proud, stubborn and fearful—the most unlikely group of people you would expect to turn the world upside down. Yet, we see Jesus shaping them from men of weakness into men of strength. And He does this in extraordinary ways.
Let’s think about one very familiar passage. In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus sends an exhausted group of disciples on a boat trip across the Sea of Galilee, He remains on shore and promises to meet them on the other side. Matthew tells us that as they make their way across the lake, they find themselves in a storm (v. 23-24). Storms in the Sea of Galilee were not unusual, but this one was…because Matthew tells us that Jesus sent them into it (v. 22). We are about to see that this storm is not just their storm—it’s Jesus’ storm too. Matthew has two purposes in sharing this account: 1) He wants his readers to see that Jesus is Lord over the storm; and, 2) That Jesus never abandons His followers in the middle of the storm. When you understand Matthew's first purpose then you will begin to understand His second purpose.
Jesus is going to use this storm to help them (and us) understand something about fear. Tied closely to our fears is the mistaken belief that we are alone. Everything familiar is gone, the dream is gone, my security is gone, my health is gone, everyone has abandoned me. All that remains is the storm. When you feel alone, you may feel that God is responsible.
Now catch this...there are 12 disciples in the same boat and at least 4 of them are fisherman. Matthew doesn’t tell us that there was a lot of conversation taking place—they are trying to survive. It was them against the storm. That’s what fear does—it makes you believe that the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It’s up to you. It’s you against the world.
But this was not the disciple’s storm—it was Jesus’ storm. I want you to hear this—the storm that you are walking through is Jesus storm also. He didn’t send them into the storm to drown or destroy them—He sent them into the storm to come to them.
As they strain at the oars, Jesus comes to them walking on the sea (v.25). In Mark’s account of this storm, he tells us that Jesus “meant to pass them by.” Mark wants us to see that something important is happening here. Jesus wanted them to see Him. He came to them in adverse circumstances, in an unusual way, to teach them a unique lesson about Himself—they needed to see Him.
Why didn’t He just calm the sea? After all, He saw them struggling (Mk 6:48). We ask the same question. Why don’t you just make this go away. I’d be a lot less afraid/anxious if you remove all of the uncertainty. But you see the disciples saw the storm…Jesus saw them. He’s not worried about the storm…it’s no match for Him. He’s interested in the disciples. The storm is not a big deal to Him—THEY are a big deal to Him. We want Jesus to make the mess go away; Jesus wants to meet us in the mess. We want the predictable; Jesus offers His presence.
It’s in the storm where they saw the Savior. You see, He made the storm to make Himself known (v.33). We think that removing us from the storm will resolve the fear…Jesus says, let me meet you in the storm.