Summary: This is the first sermon in a series on hope, which is our anchor in times of trouble. God's promises are the anchor that helps us in the storms of life. God is a promise making and promise keeping God.
A. The story is told of a time when a storm was raging on the open sea, and a sea captain realized his ship was sinking fast.
1. He called out to his crew, “Does anyone here know how to pray?”
2. One crewman stepped forward, saying, “Aye, Captain, I know how to pray.”
3. “Good,” said the captain, “you pray while the rest of us put on our life jackets – we are short one life jacket.”
B. In October of 1991, a storm stronger than any in recorded history hit the coast off Gloucester, Massachusetts.
1. The storm was officially known as “the Halloween nor’easter of 1991.”
2. It has been called the “Perfect Storm” inspiring both the book and movie with the same title.
3. It is called the “Perfect Storm” because three storms combined into one – It included the remains of Hurricane Grace that was beginning to die out in the Atlantic, coupled with energy coming across the Great Lakes, and an old frontal system hanging around New England.
4. Sebastian Junger in his book “The Perfect Storm” wrote: “A mature hurricane is by far the most powerful event on Earth. The combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former Soviet Union don’t contain enough energy to keep a hurricane going for one day.”
5. In the case of the Perfect Storm, when these three storms combined, it regenerated the hurricane creating an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic Ocean.
a. Boats encountered waves of 100 feet tall - the equivalent of a ten-story building.
b. Winds blasted over the ocean at more than 100 mph.
c. Waves 30 and 40 feet high battered the New England coast, destroying 200 homes, and property damage totaling $500 million.
d. Nine people died, including the six-man crew of the fishing boat named the Andrea Gail from Gloucester, Massachusetts.
C. Thankfully, a perfect storm like that doesn’t happen too often, but a person doesn’t have to live very long before they encounter the storms of life.
1. It might not be in the form of a hurricane, but it could be through a serious illness, the loss of a job, the break-up of a marriage, the problems in a church, or the death of a loved one.
2. The storms of disease and defeat; the storms of divorce and depression can come upon us suddenly.
D. As you know very well, our world is suddenly caught in the huge storm of a pandemic.
1. In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 virus has spread around the world, bringing physical death, economic downturn, and an upheaval to everyday life.
2. But in addition to these real physical challenges, the pandemic has also brought an overwhelming panic and fear about the present and the future.
3. And in the middle of this “perfect storm” of epic proportions, what we need more than anything else is an anchor – we need the anchor of hope that comes from the promises of God.
4. Like the sea captain in my opening story – in the midst of the storm we are experiencing, the collective voice of the world around us is crying out in fear: “Does anybody have an anchor? Does anybody know how to pray?”
5. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a time for us to step forward and say, “We have an anchor, and we know how to pray!”
6. Our God hears our prayers and our God keeps His promises – this is where our hope comes from.
7. By faith we can sing, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul, Steadfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to the Rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”
E. The present storm that we face may be new to us – because in our lifetimes, we have never been through anything like this - but this is nothing new for God.
1. Since our God created human beings thousands and thousands of years ago, God has been carrying His people of faith through the storms of life.
2. At this point, we don’t know how long this storm will last or how great will be the toll of death and destruction, but we know God will carry us through, because God has done it over & over.
3. God has brought people of faith through so many things throughout history.
a. God carried His people through the seven years of the Bubonic Plague from 1346 to 1353, where between 75-200 million people died.
b. God carried His people through the Spanish Flu of 1918, where between 20-50 million people died.
c. God carried His people through the two years of the Asian Flu of 1956-58, where 2 million people died.