Summary: This is a brief ten minute sermon preached at a funeral and it focuses on how Jesus is the One we need to focus on during the inevitable storms we face in life.
“The Storms of Life”
Matthew 14: 22 – 33
The first thing I want to say is that storms are inevitable. As we consider what has been happening around our world over the last several months – with so many hurricanes causing so much devastation and damage – this seems more true than usual. And it is true that as we go through life there will be storms: hard times, tragedies, difficulties, trials, troubles, and loss. We will find ourselves in places and circumstances we never anticipated. We will experience pain and heartache we never believed would come our way.
Looking at our passage from the Gospel of Matthew we see something very interesting. We see that Jesus made his disciples get into the boat. It was an action he directed them to take. And what happened? Well, no sooner did the disciples begin sailing on ahead to the other side of Lake Galilee, a storm began. Caught in the middle of Lake Galilee, known for storms that could start without warning, Jesus’ disciples found themselves far from the safety of shore being battered by wind and waves.
Proverbs 16: 9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” This is true even of the storms of life. There are no accidents, no coincidences. According to the Bible, all of life is directed by God. And sometimes He places us in difficult and trying circumstances to get our attention. In fact, no matter what direction our lives have gone and where we find ourselves, God wants us to turn to Him and trust in Him.
The second thing I want to say is that storms can seem insurmountable. They’re too much to handle. It’s impossible to cope. You’re surrounded by black clouds, a blinding rain, raging wind. The disciples couldn’t make it to the shore. They probably couldn’t even see the shore, much less get there. Their boat couldn’t move. There was no way they could steer it in those weather conditions.
Are you having trouble steering your life right now? Are you having difficulty even seeing the safety of the shore, of good solid ground? Does the ground under your feet instead feel like rocking waves, unstable and unreliable? Are the things you thought dependable no longer so?
Know that the Lord knows this. He knows what you are going through. He knows perfectly well what your circumstances are. He knows the pain you feel and the grief you are experiencing. He understands, and more than that he cares. In our passage the Lord Jesus walks on the water toward the disciples in the midst of the storm. Jesus wants to come to you as you go through the storms of life, to be your strength and your guide to shore. Do you trust in Jesus to be your strength in the midst of life’s storms? He is there for you to trust, and he says the same thing to us as he did to the disciples, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
The third thing I want to say is that storms can be faced only when we face Jesus. The disciple Peter was often the boldest, most impulsive of the disciples, and when he saw Jesus coming towards them, walking on the water, he asked Jesus if he could come to him on the water. So Jesus invites Peter to walk toward him on the water. Peter responds by getting out of the boat. But what happens? As he was approaching Jesus, he began to notice the waves and the wind. All of a sudden he was terrified. Taking his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink beneath the waves. Peter took his eyes off Jesus. Only then did he begin to sink. Only when he began to pay more attention to his surroundings, his circumstances, did he begin to sink. Only when he noticed the storm more than Jesus, did he begin to sink.
But then Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Peter prayed, and we too can pray. We too, when caught in the storms of life, can cry out to God in the same way: “Lord, save me!” More honest words can never be spoken by anyone. For only the Lord God – only Jesus Christ – can come to us when in the midst of the storms of life and actually save us. With him next to us we need not be afraid. Yet it is true, sometimes we have little faith. But Jesus calls us to fix our eyes on him, to look toward him. Whether we face the loss of a dearly loved, or the loss of a job, or any other difficult circumstance, Christ calls us – indeed invites us – to turn to him. Only through him can any of life have meaning and only through Jesus can we have hope that there will not always be a storm raging.