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Joy Bollinger

The day had begun on a positive note. A great multitude had gathered at Capernaum, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee to witness miracles and hear Jesus teach about the Kingdom (Mark 4:35). As dusk approached, the sun slowly slid beneath the horizon ablaze with hues of gold, red, and orange. Exhausted from the day, Jesus called to His disciples to launch the boat for the 13-mile, two-hour journey to the other side (Mark 4:35). They had made the trip before, so this would be just another, uneventful crossing…or so the disciples thought.

Jesus quickly fell asleep in the stern of the boat. Suddenly, a great windstorm arose with waves crashing against the boat and filling it with water. Fearful, the disciples awakened Jesus and said, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” The wind ceased and the sea calmed. He then turned to His disciples and asked two important questions: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Seeing, the power of His Words, they were afraid and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:36-41). “Who could this be…?” Really? Had they forgotten that Jesus had taken authority over death, demons, and disease, so why not the storms and the sea?

When Jesus asked those two rhetorical questions, He was making a statement, “You have sat under My teaching and witnessed numerous miracles. I have told you many times who I am and My mission on earth, before I return to My Father. Yet you still fear and don’t believe.” Jesus was exposing their unbelief to show them that faith not tested can never be trusted. For that reason, God allows us to pass through storms to show our vulnerabilities, so that our faith and trust in Him is developed. For without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

The disciples represented all who struggle with faith and the ability to trust God in the midst of difficult circumstances. That particular storm was part of their preparation for those times when Jesus would no longer be with them. He knew their strengths and their weaknesses just as He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He knew that without faith, if faced with a hard trial, they would falter (Mark 16:15). He knows when, where, how, why, and what will prompt us to waver in our faith. For that reason, like the disciples, He lovingly prepares us, so that our faith will remain strong and unmovable in any storm and challenge that may come.

Like us, the disciples were human beings, who when faced with adversity, struggled with questions, doubts, and fears. Even though they had the living, Incarnate Scriptures daily with them, they didn’t believe. Daily, we have access to the Word of truth that is alive and active, but how much of God’s Word do we read, really believe, take to heart, and apply to our lives? As a lighthouse is a beacon that safely guides ships and crews home in the darkest and most intense storms, God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet that guides us to a safe and peaceful harbor.

If we, like the disciples, focus on the storm and not on the Lord, we will become entangled in fear, disappointment, confusion, grief, and doubt that will hinder God’s purposes and plans. With our cooperation, He will take what appears to be a negative event and bring forth a positive outcome.

We all experience storms of different sizes and intensities. Young Joseph (the coat of many colors) passed through several storms. His jealous brothers, who hated him, sold him into slavery. He then became a slave to Pharaoh, but God’s favor was with Joseph. Even when he was thrown into a dungeon after false allegations were made against Him, God’s favor remained with him. He literally went from the pit to the palace and was eventually made second in command to Pharaoh. Joseph’s trust in God’s sovereignty was exemplified when his brothers traveled to Egypt for grain, and Joseph revealed his identity to them and kindly spoke these words, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (the Jewish nation). So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children” (Genesis 45:4-8).

Faith believes and trusts the Word of God, for we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Facts might tell us that we have a life-threatening illness, but God’s Word says, “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Facts tell us that our bank account can’t cover our expenses, but the Word tells us, “God will supply every need, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Facts tell us that we are unemployed, but God’s Word says, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17).

Praise and gratitude are key elements in faith. Those critical elements direct us away from our problem, so that we can focus on God. Praise is a form of worship that tells God, “Lord, I may not understand what is happening, but I choose to praise and trust You in this situation, because I believe that all things will work together for my good (Romans 8:28).

Are you caught in a difficult “storm” and you don’t understand why God hasn’t answered your prayers? It took 22 years of trials and tribulations, before Joseph reached his destiny. During that time, he never lost focus on God. So allow me to encourage you. What the enemy intends for evil, God is using it for your good.

Our finite minds cannot begin to grasp the breadth, length, depth, and height of God’s love for us and the plans and purposes that He has for each life. Unexpected storms are a part of life’s journey, but know that the struggles we face are opportunities for God to show His delivering power in our circumstances. For God is our shelter and strength. He is always ready to help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). We need only to trust Him. Therefore, give thanks to God, for in all things, we can be more than overcomers through Jesus Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37).

LORD, I am overwhelmed with fear, doubt, questions, and disappointment. Yet I know that what the enemy plans for evil, You are more than able to use it for my good. Help me to trust You and Your purposes, for Your Word promises that You fight for me and rescue me from my troubles. Because Your ways and thoughts are far above mine, help me to not lean on my own understanding. Teach me to rest in You and to be sensitive to Your guidance and instruction, as I entrust (STATE YOUR NEED) into Your capable and loving hands. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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