I reside in Lee County in Southwest Florida that was unfortunately hit hard a few days ago by the vicious hurricane Ian. The devastating aftermath has proven difficult to describe and put into words. The loss, the destruction, the heartbreak, the limited resources, and the insurmountable level of bad news that continues to be discovered and delivered each day can bring about an oppressive overlay of discouragement and despair among those within my community. So many residents within a fairly small area affected by this one violent storm, which had no respecter of persons or property but carried out the typical agenda of a hurricane to destroy and disrupt that which remained in its’ path.
In mysterious moments like these, as a follower of Christ and believer of God’s Word, I find myself unintentionally facing questions about the Lord’s goodness, Christ’s care, and the sovereignty of God. I have been a student of God’s Word for many years, and I have experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God throughout my lifetime, even when surviving adverse destruction from a sister storm, hurricane Irma, that reared its’ ugly head five years ago in our area. Yet, it is perplexing to me how quickly my faith can falter and my trust in the Lord can waiver when my circumstances don’t match my preferences, when my situation presents more struggle than convenience, and the Lord’s higher ways are not playing out as I would hope.
Will I still trust God and believe that He cares for me and my family and my community? If we make a decision concerning whether or not God cares for us based on our limited view of our tragic circumstances, rather than view our crisis through the lens of God’s Word and His proven track record of faithfulness to those He loves and has redeemed, then we will miss out on the opportunity to celebrate His grace and mercy and worship the Creator of the universe with thanksgiving, though difficult, while holding fast to His biblical promises when enduring complicated conditions.
First Peter 5:7 exhorts, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” The entire biblical book of 1 Peter, a letter written to Christians who had been scattered throughout the region, speaks more about suffering than other Epistles in the Bible, for the purpose of encouraging believers to persevere and not give up, though experiencing an extended time of hardship. The Apostle Peter exhorted the Christ-followers to remain steadfast in their faith in the Lord and to stand firm in His grace, and reminded them that the Almighty God has the power to restore and support and strengthen His people after we have suffered a bit. Therefore, we can entrust our lives, our losses, and our longings into the faithful Father’s hands, who will never fail us, even when we face destructive storms in life.
Many of Jesus’ original disciples and early followers were fishermen that caught fish from the waters of the Sea of Galilee. In the Bible, specifically Mark 4, the human author of this gospel book, recounted a true event that happened for these disciples in the presence of Jesus the Savior. It had been a long day for Jesus, teaching the multitude about God’s grace and truth, as He sat in a boat just offshore anchored in calm waters while the crowd sat on the land intently listening to the Messiah’s message. As the story goes, by evening, Jesus told the fishermen, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” No reason why given, just an instruction, so they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind.
Without warning, the Bible explains that a fierce storm arose on that same lake and the high waves that ensued were breaking into the boat and began to fill the vulnerable craft with water, so much that the boat started sinking. Understandably, the disciples were terrified with their current condition, with a sense of helplessness amid the powerful storm. Though they had no control over the storm, nor had they caused the storm, they were, in fact, in the presence of the One who could calm the storm. Would they trust Christ to care for them no matter the outcome of the storm?
Jesus had already assured these fishermen that they would cross the lake together and make it to the other side. But in the midst of the raging waters, threatening to destroy the boat and drown the people within the boat, the disciples struggled remembering God’s faithful Word of promise spoken prior to the storm. Because they temporarily forgot Christ’s message, this coaxed them to question the character of God’s Son, who had already proven His kindness and power through miraculous actions shown among the community before this storm arose. The disciples were not promised there would be no storm, but they were assured that the Lord would remain with them and carry them to the other side, so they could trust His higher ways and believe His Word even when their harrowing happenings screamed otherwise.
As the disciples shouted out loud to Jesus, “Lord, save us!,” a rightful response, they still questioned the Creator and asked, “Don’t You care that we are going to drown?” Have you ever asked that question of the Lord when facing tumultuous times or seasons of struggle? Lord, don’t You care what I am going through? Jesus had been sleeping in the boat in the midst of that raging storm, which makes sense since His human flesh (though fully divine) was tired after a long day of teaching the crowds. But the disciples mistook the Savior’s posture as Jesus not caring nor concerned about their perilous plight and their frightening scenario, which produced natural fear and doubt within the fishermen. So after Jesus awoke from all the disciples’ shouting and following His spoken firm word to His watery creation, “Silence! Be still!,” Christ immediately addressed His human creatures and asked them two direct questions, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The Mark 4 scripture passage does not include their answer to these questions, per se, but records the disciples’ confused understanding of just Who this anointed Son of God is that has the power to command a ravaging storm and it obeys Him instantly. Jesus would later continue teaching the local crowds and challenging them to believe His Word that the heavenly Father cares deeply for His valuable people so much more than all other creation, such as birds or flowers, though precious in His sight. In Luke 12:28-31, Jesus offers these encouraging words of hope along with a directive, “And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.”
The Lord certainly cares about us, but He also defines what we need and determines how best to care for those needs for His glory and our good, which may look different than how we view things or what we want. Nevertheless, will we seek the Kingdom of God above all else by faith and trust Christ to care for us whether we face a physical hurricane wrecking havoc on our homes and livelihood or a spiritual storm raging within our hearts to have faith in God and believe His Word? Our faith is tested and strengthened best among storms. Don’t allow short-term helplessness to turn into long-term hopelessness. Remember that the Savior’s presence remains, His Word is secure, so cry out to Him to save you. He cares for you and His power is mightier than any storm.