Summary: When we face a fierce storm, we shall see a fabulous sunrise.
It was evening of that same day. Jesus said to them, "Let us go over to the other side." After sending the people away, they took Jesus with them in a boat. It was the same boat He used when He taught them. Other little boats went along with them. A bad wind storm came up. The waves were coming over the side of the boat. It was filling up with water. Jesus was in the back part of the boat sleeping on a pillow. They woke Him up, crying out, "Teacher, do You not care that we are about to die?" He got up and spoke sharp words to the wind. He said to the sea, "Be quiet! Be still." At once the wind stopped blowing. There were no more waves. He said to His followers, "Why are you so full of fear? Do you not have faith?" They were very much afraid and said to each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!" Mark 4 : 35 – 41.
The Philippines suffers loss of property, worth millions, every year from the series of typhoons (strong gusts of winds with heavy monsoon rains) that batter the archipelago during the months starting from May to October. It’s seasonal. Filipinos have been used to cope with the destructive effects of these natural forces. But there are far more devastating storms that do not come with howling gust of winds and seemingly relentless monsoon rains that cause floods and landslides. They are the storms of life. And they are not seasonal. They come, more often than not, at a time when you do not expect them. Sometimes storms of life are results of disobedience. These storms serve as chastening rod to an erring person. Jonah’s storm was to correct and direct him. But sometimes they are results of obedience. They serve as testing rod to inspect and perfect a Christian. In Mark 4, it was the disciples’ chance to practice what they recently heard Jesus taught - the parable of the mustard seed. Storms and sufferings are required, not elective, part of Christian curriculum. During these times, as feeble human beings usually feel, it may seem that God is off-duty. But He is not. He is there all the time. Through the storms of life, there are several guidelines that we need to consider:
Our Convictions should be Gleaned by the Savior.
How often, we mistakenly take preference as conviction. Preference is a strong belief that WILL change under the right circumstances. We analyze our situation and come up with a presumed solution to our situations. And we firmly adhere to them until we see some signs of progress or improvements. Conviction is a strong belief that WILL NOT change under any circumstance. Our sets of beliefs should be by-products of our salvation, founded upon Jesus, the Rock of our Salvation - convictions that will not give-up and concede; and, convictions that will not give-in and compromise. How often, in a world of global recession and economic crisis aggravated by explosive materialism, we are plunged into a pool of hopelessness and deep helplessness trapped inside four insurmountable walls and the only way out is to give up the ghost. Look up. Don’t give up my friend. God can turn the tide. He will come to your rescue. Trust Him. Sometimes we attempt to help our selves, playing under the rules of this world to cope with our material lack. You know what I mean. The prophet Habakkuk taught us clearly how to have a conviction that builds our attitude whenever we experience material lack (Hab. 3:17,18).
Athanasius, one of the ancient church fathers and the bishop of Alexandria (298 – 373 A.D.) faced the fiercest challenge of his leadership against the Arians (those who believed and taught that Christ is purely human and not divine). The number of Arians multiplied in great numbers until the doctrinal conflict among the bishops reached the Roman emperor’s concern. Athanasius was summoned by the emperor, "Athanasius, what can you say and what do you intend to do. The world is against you." Athanasius, his quick and stern reply to the emperor, "Your highness, it’s Athanasius against the world. I will stand firm".
How about your convictions? Are they still firm during the storms of your life? Conviction is a strong belief that God is God, regardless of the circumstances in our lives!
Our Motivations should be Guided by the Holy Spirit!
Jeremiah, after giving a bold statement that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, asked rhetorically, "who can understand it?". The Lord answered with a promise, Jer. 17:9,10. David knew well enough how crucial it is for God to guide our motives, Psl. 139:23, 24. Frustratingly enough though, some people who are in the fiercest storms of life come to church fellowships with wrong motives - they seek rewards not renewal. They thought that worshipping God gives them the right to receive the bounties of heaven. Not so. Worship is man’s privilege to render his bounties for the glory of God. How many well-clad eloquent preachers are out there promising you a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end with their convincing messages of material prosperity and physical healing? I have no doubts at all. God can do all that. He is almighty. With those overtones of messages in these times of economic collapse (due to unwise management of resources) and disease-stricken societies (results of uncontrolled self-indulgences), it is not surprising to see many people in their gatherings.