Spring storms in the Hill Country of Texas often come without a lot of notice. The deluge of water with high winds and the potential accompanying tornadoes can produce an amazing amount of damage quickly. These storms can dump so much water in a particular area that almost immediate flooding occurs creating life threatening situations.
These storms are not unlike the suddenness of personal storms. Those that are unexpected and certainly were not anticipated; those storms that “dump” so much “water” on you that you are not sure of survival as you gasp and try to catch your breath.
Such have been the unexpected personal storms my husband and I are aware of and concerned about…it is almost too much and the burden too heavy.
- the sudden ICU diagnosis of a disease this young college student will now deal with the rest of her life almost without warning. What do you do? How do you respond?
- the international spousal visa denial in a situation that should have been routine and had been granted before – twice! Who would have thought that a planned two week trip to her country of origin for the purpose of renewing her passport would result in multiple efforts to return to her husband and child - aborted. This storm has thwarted their longing to return to normal life extending now almost 12 months. How do you keep going when disappointment and waiting fatigue set in to the point of deep struggle and lack of hope?
- a dashed dream of raising their children together that will not happen now because of the disastrous,selfish choices of the husband; and an unwanted but necessary-for-survival divorce; a storm in which the innocent suffer. How do you cope with such deep disappointment and the death of a marriage? How do you live in the pain of this kind of betrayal and loss especially as you watch the impact on your children?
- and aborted dreams of how you thought life would be; unfulfilled longings and the cold reality that what you envision and hoped for will never be – most likely.
When I think about these storms, it’s easy to feel powerless wanting desperately to relieve the pain and offer a solution. We can pray, but there are no easy answers, no quick fixes for storms that seem so permanently impacting. But, there is insight from how Jesus related to the disciples in the middle of their storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 6:45-51).
They were experienced fishermen and surely had endured a storm like this before. But this night they were having difficulty “straining at the oars and the wind was against them”. It was in the middle of the fourth watch somewhere between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. We can conjecture that they feared for their lives and that they were panicked, overwhelmed and possibly desperate, for sure exhausted. If they weren’t afraid before they certainly became afraid, when suddenly they saw someone walking on the lake, thought it was a ghost and became even more “terrified”, panicked with heart rate up about to jump out of their skin maybe even out of the boat. “They all cried out because they saw ‘him’ and were terrified.”
It was Jesus and he said, “Take courage, it is I. Don’t be afraid. Then he climbed into the boat with them and the wind died down.” Oh how incredible to hear those words from Him… can we put ourselves in this passage in whatever storm we are in to realize He is saying those words to us?
It was Jesus who had sent them out to go to the other side of the lake. It was Jesus who saw them straining at the oars because the wind was against them. It was Jesus who went out to them walking on the lake water.
It was Jesus who climbed into their boat. It was Jesus who calmed the storm. He was present. He saw, he noticed, he came and he climbed in with them. Could it be that the Lord created an experience for them to develop in their faith and their trust in Him? They had just seen Jesus feed the 5,000. Now they were caught in this storm. Jesus created experiences for his disciples to help them develop faith and trust in Him.
He became present with them. He is present with us 24/7 and the ones we are concerned about. He says so (Hebrews 13:5 Matthew 28:19-20). Notice the compassion of Christ as he entered their boat. He spoke a word. The storm stopped and they saw he was not who they thought … only God could do this.
During these weeks of watching, waiting and praying for these personal storms my husband and I are aware of, the main comfort we’ve found is knowing that the Presence of Christ is with our friends AND with us. God’s word to Israel in Isaiah 43:1-3. He said, “… when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned.”
He is present and he will never leave you. When you feel like you can’t make it and the storm is too fierce and you can’t go any more…realize that the Presence of Christ will sustain you and get you through. He is already present.