Do you feel sometimes that you are just spinning like a top and nothing will stop the spinning? Life is going well. You’re doing your job faithfully, whatever it is. Then you get blindsided. The world starts spinning. It doesn’t seem like it will ever stop. Where do you go to find security when life hits like that? Where do you get the courage to keep going?
The Bible teaches that we can face life’s realities with courage and peace by entrusting ourselves and our loved ones to a God who loves us dearly. I believe that you and I can learn to do just that. How do we learn it? We can learn it by watching and listening to Jesus.
Storms of life hit
In Mark 4:35-41, you’ll find a familiar story. The disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat. A normal life experience for them. They were working the sails and oars. Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat. Suddenly, a fierce storm hit. Such storms were common on the Sea of Galilee because it was situated in a basin surrounded by mountains. Every storm with high winds and waves was a real threat to those who were in boats. So, when the disciples realized what was happening, they got afraid.
Now, at least 4 of them were skilled fishermen. This wasn’t the first time they experienced this. Had they always panicked? Somehow through using their own skills, we know they had managed to get safely to the shore because they were alive here.
Jesus was resting. They wake him up. Jesus asks them: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Basically, he is asking: “Why are you cringing in fear? You know who I am. I am with you. I said we were going to the other side. Why didn’t you believe me? All you could see was your own inadequacy, not God’s strength to get you through it.” Do you recognize that in your life?
Storms of life hit every day to even the most faithful Christians. This storm was not the disciples’ fault. It was part of life for them. Every one of us must deal with disappointments, problems, and tragedies in life. Was there real danger? Yes. Fear is a gift of God that alerts us to the presence of danger. We are supposed to act on it by either fleeing from the danger or facing it head on. Taking action either way. And, that’s a good thing.
Where we get into trouble is when we let our imaginations run wild, give in to despair, and doubt God’s goodness. And, that’s what happened to the disciples in the boat with Jesus. They tell Jesus, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Isn’t that often our emotion when trouble hits. God, don’t you care? That pessimism comes from our view of trouble. We can have 2 views: the world’s view and the biblical view. They aren’t the same.
The worldly, non-biblical view of trouble.
This view of trouble thinks, “When things go well, the gods are happy with us. When things go wrong, the gods are angry with us.” So, the goal of life becomes how to stay on the good side of the gods so bad things won’t happen.
Even Christians get caught up into this kind of thinking. We try to interpret events, especially tragedies, as signs of God’s anger or punishment: “Why did this happen?” “What does it mean?” “What is God trying to tell me?” Or we say this: “If I’m a good Christian, have enough faith, or am spiritual enough, I can expect from God personal peace, prosperity, and health. Bad things won’t happen to me.”
Look at the disciples. Now that they were with Jesus, what do you think was their expectation? No more storms on the Sea of Galilee? That’s like expecting no more hail storms in North Texas or hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. Not gonna happen.
When they asked, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Their real questions were, “Don’t you love us enough? What have we done to make you not care?” They doubted His love and goodness. That’s what we often do when we are faced with life’s realities. That’s the worldly view of trouble.
We need to replace that thinking with…
The godly, biblical View of trouble
Here are a few facts to know so you can see trouble from God’s point of view and stop looking at troubles from the world’s point of view.
Fact #1. We live in a fallen, evil, cursed world. It’s a war zone—in some places, literally a war zone. We are in the last days of this broken old creation. It won’t get fixed until Jesus returns. In that until time, while we are waiting, you and I have the life of the new creation on the inside through the Holy Spirit. But at the same time, we are living in a body and world of the old, fallen creation. The Bible says this world is groaning because of its corruption. Some of our troubles are from that. Illnesses, debilitating injuries, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. We live in a corrupted world.
Fact #2. God has chosen from the beginning to give all humans the freedom to act. Some trouble comes from our own idiotic behavior. We make bad decisions then have to deal with the consequences. I’ve been there. They may be hard but God lets us experience consequences to show us why we need Him more and how ugly sin really is.
Sometimes we must live through the consequences of someone else’s bad decisions. Through no fault of our own. I know listening to me now are victims of theft, rape, childhood abuse, rejection by a spouse or very painful things others have done to you. That’s when we are tempted to ask the questions: “Why does God let people do evil? Why doesn’t he stop it if he is capable of doing that?”
The true answer is that He does stop evil all the time. God’s Spirit stops more evil on this earth than we will ever know. Every day He is stopping evil. He’s called the restrainer of evil in 2 Thessalonians. Would you like to know what this world will look like when the Holy Spirit is not restraining evil any longer? Go and read Revelation chapters 5-19. We aren’t there yet so we know He’s restraining it.
But He doesn’t stop all evil now because that would mean taking away ALL human freedom. Do you want that? The thing that the Bible teaches is that God takes our freedom and responsibility far more seriously than we do. That’s a gift He gave us.
Humans demand their freedom to do what they want to do. Then when something bad happens, they blame God for letting it happen. Illogical, isn’t it?
We don’t have to have an answer for all bad things happening. In this world, all may not turn out well. No matter how hard we try to fix it. But, when we are with Christ, we will have the whole story. Fact #2: God has given all humans the freedom to act.
Fact #3. Our enemy, Satan, is real and has influence on our natural world and the people in it. The devil entices people to rebel against God, and he can cause bad things to happen.
Fact #4. God is great and powerful. He will one day fix this broken world. Yay! That is a promise to us. It will happen in our future.
In the meantime, problems and troubles in life are normal, not abnormal. Jesus told that to us in John 16:33. We should expect trouble. People in the past may have understood better that trouble was a part of life. Our generation is surprised by it.
And, women in general have a problem with this. We are created with a need for security and stability so we aim to control our environment to create that security for us and for those we love. Our western way of thinking is that we can fix it—whatever IT is. When we cannot fix it, we panic. And, fear can bring out the worst in us, especially in our uncertain world filled with the threat of terrorism…and germs.
But friends, control is an illusion. We can only control our own behavior and thinking. So, stop that bad thinking that God is mad at you when trouble hits and start thinking with a Biblical mind. God is good. And, in his goodness, he allows some not-so-good things into our lives.
Bottomline: Our choice is not whether we will have trouble, but what kind of preparation we’ll make and responsewe’ll choose in facing life’s realities when they hit us.
The preparation is filling your mind with truth from God’s Word. Believing that God is good all the time and that He loves you. Truths clearly stated in Scripture. God never withdraws His love from you. That frees you to love Him back. To trust him. To obey Him. To use all of your resources to serve Him even while living in a hostile war zone.
Right thinking may not make the trouble go away or make life easy again. But you will be better able to walk forward with the courage and peace to face whatever hits as you rely on God more than on yourself and your own way of thinking.
Read or listen to “Deborah • Face Trouble with Courage and Peace.”
Everyday Women Bible Study of Old Testament Women (read online)
Everyday Women Bible Study of Old Testament Women (download pdf)
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