“There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.’ – Isaiah 4:6.

Maybe you read the story of the huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship that sailed through strong winds and rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s 4.500 passengers were forced to hunker down in their cabins for 4 hours as 30-foot waves and hurricane force winds rocked the ship. One passenger said, “the ship rocked side-to-side – sometimes hanging at an incline longer than seemed safe. Large noises came from within the ship” Another passenger wrote: “I’m not going to lie: I was terrified – although I did my best to hide it from my wife.”

The people in Biblical times had a healthy fear of the sea and for good reason. Needless to say, the boats in that time did not compare to the technological marvels of today. Psalm 69.3 says, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.“

So in Mark 4 we have a storm at sea and the disciples losing hope in the storm. Their boat was sinking. They called to Jesus in the midst of this turmoil.  Jesus’ response is in Mark 4:39: “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” 

As Mark tells it, the disciples are on a boat when a sudden and violent windstorm comes up.  Matthew tells us it was a great storm. (Matthew 8:24)  We have all seen storms blow in. We may have “felt” a storm coming in. When difficult storms blow into our lives, many of us engage in a spiritual tug-of-war with God. We view ourselves at the helm trying to guide the boat out of danger. We want to “pull ourselves together” and pilot the boat in the direction we think it should go. We imagine God as the unseen force that is pulling us in a direction we don’t understand.   

We also can experience sudden storms in life. The doctor tells you that you have cancer, or a spouse tells you for the first time that they want a divorce, or you get laid off out of the blue. Sudden storms appear quickly on the horizon and leave you little time to react. 

That is when we seek God in prayer just as the disciples did. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  God does not share our panic. He is not surprised. One Bible commentary says, “we do ill to try to communicate our despair to God.  Instead of rushing to communicate our panic to Him, We should allow Him to communicate His calm to us.”

The reality is God is waiting for us to place our faith in Him. He wants to guide us as we struggle through life’s storms. Colossians 3:15-16 says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

But I encourage you not to use faith as a bargaining chip when asking for God’s help. How often have we thought, God, get me out of this situation and I will do (fill in the blank). But this isn’t faith and it certainly isn’t a way to experience the freedom of leaning into God’s strength and love. Real faith is allowing God to be God on His terms, not ours.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If hard things in life could be thought of as storms, what is the most recent storm you have faced? How did you get through it? 
  2. When you have felt like the wind of life is about to blow you away, or the rains of disappointment are soaking your plans. What do you do?
  3. Have you ever gone to God when you have been experiencing a storm in your life? Did it make a difference? What did Jesus do when the disciples came to Him?
  4. What can you do this week to make God your anchor in the storms of your life?