The first recorded storm comes from the Biblical account of the worldwide flood in Noah’s day. The sign afterwards proclaimed a promise wrapped up in the first ever rainbow. In Scripture there are a number of rampaging ‘beautiful beasts’ mentioned. Most are associated with sailing. We recall Jonah but forget Jehoshaphat’s wrecked ships at Ezion-geber (1 Kings 21:48).
In the Gospels there are three specific references to storms and one in Acts. Each of them have an application to how our faith is tested and shaped by life’s storms. This is true whether we find ourselves in midst of a furious physical storm, an ethical, emotional or spiritual one.
Storm 1. Is mentioned in a parable by Jesus as He sums up the Beatitudes in Matthew 7. We all build our lives on some foundation, which Jesus classed as Rock or Sand. Both lives, depicted as houses, suffer the assault of the ‘beautiful beast’. In both houses fear would have been felt but only one would be destroyed. The life built upon the ‘Rock’ which refers to the Word of God, prevails. That doesn’t mean to say that there wasn’t damage or pain or fear to the life. No! What is being stressed by Jesus is the life is not shattered even though it had been battered.
Storm 2. In chapter 8 of Matthew there is the first mention of a storm. Those professional fishermen were unable to cope with its ferocity. A strange picture is presented by a sleeping Jesus in the midst of the boat being swamped. Many of us have found a storm of life smashing into us and our voice being raised “Jesus, wake up!” Why did Jesus ask them what appears to be a silly question? He said “Why are you afraid, of you of little faith?” The implied answer is, no vessel can sink when the Lord is on board, awake or seemingly asleep!
Storm 3. In Matthew 14 is the feeding of the 5,000 men. Afterwards Jesus went up into the mountains to pray. The disciples took to their boat and merrily sailed away with warm and exciting memories. Evening darkness enveloped them and an unexpected ‘beast of a storm’ pounced. But there wasn’t any sleeping Jesus. He was absent. Why didn’t the Lord rush to their aid, for He could see their plight from where He was on the heights? How often have we wondered where Jesus is in the midst of our own ‘beast of a storm.’ Could one of His reasons be to teach us He is able to come to us ‘walking on the water’? He is the master over the ‘beautiful, ferocious beast’ even if it is stirred up by the Devil. As with the fishermen so to with us, our response is a deeper faith and gratitude in Him.
Storm 4. This happened to Paul in Acts 27. Dispatched to Rome to be tried by Caesar the authorities ignored the season’s changing weather situation. It was approaching the time for the Euroclydon (northeaster) to arise and blow. It did! The account shows the magnitude of the storm. Why did they suffer the fear, the loss, the harrowing of those fourteen days? Because of a fateful and rash choice. Why were all on board not killed? Because God had promise years before to Paul he would bear testimony to Jesus before Caesar. Because of that promise all on board the doomed boat were under God’s protection.
The reason for these accounts to be in Scripture is to teach us, warn us and encourage us to cling by faith to Jesus. He is the Lord over the storm. We live in an unstable world which seems to breed ‘storms’ of emotional, spiritual, ethical and relational categories. Jesus, through His word, wants us to be faithful in the storm, strong when the ‘beast snarls’ to cower us. He also wants us to be merciful when for no reason of our own we are caught up in the storm caused by others. Think of the testimony of the disciples to family and friends. Even when 'picked on' (in a friendly manner) by others about walking on water and then sinking Peter could reply "At least I got out of the boat and gave it a go!" Imagine the discussions Paul would have had with those who had been on board the wrecked ship.
Ray Hawkins Feb. 8th 2017.
Ray writes Bible themed Devotions of 31 days. Subjects include Children, Dynamic Ageing, Marriage and The Warrior Lord's Sword. Check out his blog site http://rayhawkinsauthor.blog.com.au