By Dan Strand
Sunday, January 01, 2006
In our text, the disciples find themselves in a terrible storm. Now many times storms catch us when we're not expecting them. This was probably true for the disciples, as this storm came even when Jesus was with them in the ship!
But in this story, Jesus reveals Himself as the God who is bigger that our storms. And I think our view of God is very important, because how we view God will determine how we view ourselves. And this morning I'm sure that all of us know that God is bigger than our storms, but if you're like me, you just sometimes need to be reminded. One thing is for sure in this story: The storm was not as big to Jesus as it was to the disciples! And even though the storm was above their head, it was still under His feet!
But wait a minute. In what way is God bigger than our storms? There are five principles in our text that answer this:
I. His Intention Is Bigger Than Our Storm (
Jesus had a plan. And what was that plan? It was for Him and His disciples to make it to the other side of the lake. That was God's plan!
We as human beings have failed in our intentions, haven't we? Have you ever determined to help someone one day, but when all was said and done, you didn't help at all? Have you ever set out to do a good deed, only to end up not doing it? We have all failed in our intentions, but God has never failed in His intentions! God's plan cannot be thwarted! Phil. 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;"
Now we may never go through a literal storm on the Sea of Galilee, but we do go through various "storms of life." Your storm may be when someone you love dearly dies unexpectedly, and you don't understand it. It may be when your job is not going the way you need it to go. It could be when you feel betrayed by those you love and no one understands your heartache. Our storm can be when life has us so confused, we don't know where to turn or what to do. It may even be when Satan whispers in your ear, "It's no use, it will never work. You may as well give up."
What can we do when heartache comes knocking on our door and we feel overcome by despair or bound by a feeling of hopelessness? We start by realizing that God has a plan, and His plan is greater than our feelings! And His intention is bigger than any storm!
I don't understand it all. I don't fully understand why I've got a speech impediment. But I'm glad for one thing. I'm glad that I know that God has a plan for me, and that His plan for me is bigger than any storm I'll ever experience! Do you believe that?
II. His Interpretation Is Bigger Than Our Storm (
Jesus is asleep in the storm and evidently has been asleep for a good while. Isn't that strange? How could Jesus sleep through a storm? The disciples literally thought they were dying! Obviously the storm was not as big to Jesus as it was to the disciples!
I wonder: Do we sleep good when problems are consuming us? I don't!
When problems consume me, I have a hard time sleeping . . . So do you know what I do? I just lay awake and help God "run the world!"
The disciples interpreted this storm as something terrible! The fact is — They could not change their circumstances! There was absolutely nothing they could do about the storm! And that's hard to deal with sometimes, isn't it? Do you ever wish you could change your circumstances? I do! But we can't. We may as well accept that! We need to realize that God doesn't see the storm the way we see the storm. His interpretation is bigger than our storm.
God sees the storm as a means of advancement. He uses storms of life to test us to help us get closer to Him. God uses the dark, scary, uncertain times of life as an opportunity for Him to demonstrate is power not ours, and for God to get the glory, not us. God wants to use our trials to get us a little closer to Him.
I wonder: When our "storm" starts to devastate us, do we want to take God's interpretation of our storm? Or, do we want to just develop our own interpretation? When trouble comes down on us, do we carelessly say like some, "God doesn't care — or He'd do something for me!" But problems are sometimes just opportunities in "work clothes." He's testing our faith. We must not forget: Faith is taking God at His Word despite the circumstances. And faith is often claiming God's promise in the midst of bad circumstances.
Like the disciples, we may be in a terrible "storm." We may be so scared that we're biting our nails off. But it's good to know that God's not biting His nails off . . . because His interpretation is bigger than our storm!
III. His Inclination Is Bigger Than Our Storm (
When the Bible says the ship was "filled" with water it means they were losing "control" of the ship, and the water was controlling the ship. Rather than the boat controlling the boat, the storm was controlling the boat. The word "jeopardy" indicates that they feared death! They thought, "It's over!" But they did the right thing — They went to Jesus! And while they were literally going down, Jesus was rising up!
Jesus "arose," but not the way I would have arose! Have you ever been awaken suddenly and unexpectantly form a deep sleep? Our normal response is to be startled, bewildered, confused and to rub the sand out of our eyes, right? However, Jesus didn't do that. He arose and immediately He inclined Himself to them.
A. His Inclination Is To Hear Us!
That's His nature! Immediately Jesus inclined Himself to them! God is never in such a deep sleep that He doesn't hear our faintest whisper. Aren't you glad for that?
One amazing thing that doctors have verified is that a mother often has a special "ear" for her baby's cry. Mothers can often distinguish their own baby's cry in a room of crying babies. What in the world? For me, and most men, one child's cry is the same as another. If you've heard one, you've heard them all. But not to a mother.
Why? Because God made her with a special "ear" for her baby. She is inclined to hear her baby.
But that pales in comparison with God's ear for the cry of His children.
B. His Inclination Is To Help Us!
Although Jesus was sleeping, I think the disciples misunderstood the nature of His sleep. They evidently thought that "sleeping" meant that He was unaware of their present danger, or that He was unconcerned for their personal lives, or maybe He was unable to make the difference that they needed.
But Jesus was no less God when He was asleep than when He's awake. Jesus was no less God when He was lying down than when He was standing up. He rebuked the wind and storm and produced a calm!
IV. His Intervention Is Bigger Than Our Storm (
These disciples had seen other miracles before, but notice what they said: "What manner of man is this?" The way He intervened was unreal. They were saying, "It's not human!"
Let me ask you something: If God can control the wind and the waves, don't you think He can control your storm? If God can alter the very laws of nature, I believe He can help me with my problems! . . . Don't you? There is no storm too big for God to handle! Do you believe that? Even the wind recognized His authority and the storm was just a platform for Him to do His work on.
I don't understand how He does it, but God can even use the junk in my life to bring glory to Him. God desires to use everything that happens to us for our good and God's glory. Do you believe that He can do that in your life? Thank God that His intervention is bigger than our storm!
V. His Instruction Is Bigger Than Our Storm
The disciples learned some things through the storm that they might not have learned any other way.
A. They learned something about their faith (
When Jesus asked, "Where is your faith?" He asked a good question. I don't know where their faith was, but I know where it wasn't. Their faith may have been in the size of the boat, to withstand the storm. Their faith may have been in their ability to out-row the storm. Their faith may have been in the strength of their anchor. I don't know where their faith was, but I know where it wasn't: It wasn't in Christ. They learned something about their faith from the storm, and we do too! When God sends a storm my way, I see how many different things I've been leaning on!
What if Jesus asked us this morning, "Where is your faith?" Some would have to answer, "My Father is in my circumstances being just right. But they rarely are!
Others would confess that their faith is in people responding just so. But they rarely do! Some people's faith is only in the pleasures that this life can offer? But, they're so shortlived. Many only have faith in their finances and in the things money can buy. But they don't satisfy.
B. They learned something about their future (
They did get to the other side! God wasn't through with them yet. He had something else for them beyond the storm. And when the storms of the life beat down on us, we need to realize that there is life beyond the storm. God is not finished with us yet.
Several years ago there were awful hurricane storms in Nicauraugua, Honduras, and Puerto Rico. My sister-in-law, who lives in Puerto Rico described the awful noise of the storm to be like an uncontrolled monster that nearly made a person deaf.
On television, news reporters interviewed poor families in Honduras, that were completely devastated by the storm. Some of their attitudes were both virtuous as well as convicting. One lady said, "Yes, it was awful. We lost everything, and we'll have to start all over. But the good news is — it's brought our family back together again. We are closer than ever. The community is banding together like we've never seen before. Do you know what they were saying? They were saying, "We benefited from the storm." Can God really do that? Do you believe He can do it for you? Can he do it tonight?
"My Father's way may twist and turn, My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know, He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray, My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead For He doth know the way.
Tho' night be dark and it may seem That day will never break;
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him, He maketh no mistake.
There's so much now I cannot see, My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust And leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift And plain it all He'll make.
Through all the way, tho' dark to me, He made not one mistake."
— A. M. Overton
Dan Strand is Pastor of Madison Heights Baptist Church in Madison, TN.