When I was a child, I remember reading about Alexander who had “a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.” Have you ever had a day like that? A week? A month? Or longer? I have!
There was a time when Jesus knowingly sent His disciples on a trip that would shake them to the core. From that story, we can learn some principles to help us in our difficult times. Here’s the story as told in Scripture:
Luke 8:22-25 (CSB) “One day He (Jesus) and His disciples got into a boat, and He told them, ‘Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.’ So they set out, and as they were sailing He fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm came down on the lake; they were being swamped and were in danger. They came and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to die!’ Then He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were fearful and amazed, asking one another, ‘Who can this be? He commands even the winds and the waves, and they obey Him!’” (Luke 8:22-25)
One of the first questions that would come to our 21st century, American, litigious mind is: “Whose fault was it?” We’ve erroneously developed a mindset that assumes that the experience of anything undesirable must also include someone to blame for it.
Well, let’s play along and ask that question of this story, “Whose fault was it?”
Very clearly, it was Jesus’ “fault.” Jesus is the one who sent them into the storm. It was His idea. He’s the one who said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.”
Now, we either have to assume that Jesus didn’t know that there was going to be a storm that would shake these seasoned fishermen to the core or He did know it. There isn’t a third option.
The fact that Jesus is God leaves us with only one choice. He knew He was sending His disciples into a storm. Yet, He did it anyway.
In fact, there is another interesting insight embedded in this story. Luke 8:24 states: “Then He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves.” The storm immediately stopped.
That begs the question: If Jesus calmed the storm after His disciples became terrorized by the experience, couldn’t He have calmed the storm before it got out of control? In fact, couldn’t He have kept the storm from forming in the first place?
The fact is that there will always be storms in life. There will be trials that come our way that terrorize us to the core. And, yes, Jesus is the One responsible (at least to some extent) for sending us into a storm that He quite possibly could have averted. Yet, knowing that it came from His hand is the very thing that can keep us sane.
In a sermon entitled “Reasons for Turning to the Lord”, Charles Spurgeon once said: “Ungodly men set down their troubles to chance, and sometimes they even trace them to the devil … Frequently they lay their ills at the door of their fellow men, and grow quarrelsome, malicious, and revengeful. It is a happy day for a man when he knows in whose hand is the rod, and learns to trace his trouble to God.”
That sounds strange, doesn’t it? In fact, it goes against the grain of those who insist that God is only loving since in our minds, we cannot fathom how love could exist while sending the object of one’s affection into a storm.
Yet, in God’s loving, holy, wise plan, He has never promised to keep us from harm (…at least not in this life. Heaven is a completely different story.). Instead, He has promised to work everything that happens to us for our good (Romans 8:28). He’s about the business of building Christlike character into us and it is just common sense that we don’t typically grow in the good times. It takes storms to make the roots of character and Christlikeness grow deep.
Joseph, the Old Testament hero, knew what trouble was. He had been sold into slavery by his brothers. Later on, he was falsely accused of sexual misconduct with Potiphar’s wife. For that, he was wrongly sent to prison for many years. Yet, after his prison time was finished, he told his brothers, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people (Genesis 50:20).
Clearly, Joseph believed that God was responsible for the false allegation and prison time. It was God’s way of preparing the man for the incredible task ahead of being second in command of the major world power at that time.
Are you going through some tough times right now? Know that God has ordained this time of trial. Maybe you did nothing to get in this spot. Then again, maybe you did. However, God is completely in control and has orchestrated your present life’s circumstances (Ephesians 1:11) to bring about Christlikeness in you.
Trust Him. Allow Him to mold you. And then anticipate celebrating in Heaven for eternity how you weathered the storm and were equipped by God for the task ahead.