Summary: In this sermon you will examine some of the questions that arise during the storms of life.
The past few weeks the Gulf Coast has been hit hard by storms. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged Louisiana and Texas. Many people are homeless and have suffered immeasurable loss. Many questions arise from the midst of the storms. What do we say? Where are the answers? I want to use these storms as a teaching point today. I do not have easy answers. I do not have quick fixes. I do find encouragement from the scriptures.
In Matthew 8:23-27 we find one of the occasions when Jesus dealt with a 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?” From this text I want to ask some questions that arise from the midst of storms.
First question: where is Jesus during the storm? As you examine this text you discover that Jesus was with His followers in the midst of the storm. Look at verse 23 and 24. “Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him. The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm.” Notice two things about Jesus during the storm. First, Jesus was with His disciples in the midst of the storm. That is one of the clear teachings of the Bible. When you go through a storm, Jesus also goes through the storm. In Ps. 23:4 it speaks of going through the valley of the shadow of death. In that valley God is with us. In Daniel 3 we find the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not renounce their faith. The Bible tells us that when the Babylonian officials looked into the fire they saw a fourth individual who was like the Son of God. (Dan. 3:25) God was with these men in the midst of the trial.
God understands our trials. The Bible says we do not have an uncaring God. “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing we do, yet he did not sin.” (Heb. 4:15- NLT)
The story is told of a hardened old sea captain who was quite vocal about his atheism. One night during a storm he was washed overboard and his men heard him crying out to God for help. When he was finally rescued one of the men asked him, “I thought you didn’t believe in God.” He replied, “Well, if there isn’t a God, there ought to be one for times like this.”
The second thing you notice about Jesus presence in the storm is, He was asleep. That does not mean He was uncaring. It means He is unmoved by the storms of life. They do not upset Him. He does not loose sleep over them. He understands the source and the solution. We do not have access to this information. This is where trust comes in.
Second question: what does Jesus do about the storm? (vs. 25) In this text Jesus responds to the storm in three ways.
• He allowed the storm. Sometimes he allows storms in our lives. As you study the Bible you come to understand that sometimes God allows storms to blow. Job is a case in point. Job was blameless before God and yet he suffered a tremendous storm.
• He stopped the storm. Sometimes Jesus will stop the storm. In our text he allowed it but he also stopped it. I remember an occasion years ago when I went to visit an elderly couple in a church I served. The man was ravaged by anxiety and depression. As I visited in their home I discovered the man’s condition. Before leaving I asked if I could pray for them. The man was shaking uncontrollably. As I prayed he suddenly became calm. I do not claim to have the gift of healing but God blessed my prayer and gave that elderly man a sense of peace.
• He delivered his disciples from the storm. (vs. 26)Sometimes the greatest miracle is to see God’s handi-work in the midst of the storms. Joni Erickson Tadi is a case in point. This lady was paralyzed, from a diving accident, yet she has become a beautiful testimony of God’s enabling power.
Third, what part does faith play in a storm? Notice verse 26. “But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Even though the disciples’ faith was weak during the storm it played a part.