Have you ever had something just come out of nowhere that was so surprising that it sucked the breath right out of you? An unexpected storm of life that came upon you suddenly and threatened great damage, violence or even death? Your spouse said they want a divorce and you thought everything was good. Your doctor tells you that you have cancer and you just thought you had a cold. You lost your job right after buying a new house.
Talk about stress! These situations (and I’d venture to say we’ve all had at least a couple) are pressure-filled moments that truly test your faith in God and his word. You might be tempted to think, “this one is going to kill me” or “there is no way out of this one."
Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus understands this temptation…”He understands humanity, for as a Man, our magnificent King-Priest was tempted in every way just as we are, and conquered sin.” Maybe you, like me, have read that verse in the past and thought that applied to the temptation to steal or temptation for lustful thoughts because it says he conquered sin. It’s enlightening to know that the temptation to give up or give in is linked to sin. To not see God as a Way Maker, to doubt his word and goodness or be in unbelief is sin.
Just one chapter prior we read, “They grieved God for forty years by sinning in their unbelief, until they dropped dead in the desert. So God swore an oath that they would never enter into his calming place of rest all because they disobeyed him. It is clear that they could not enter into their inheritance because they wrapped their hearts in unbelief.” Hebrews 3:17-19
Unbelief can kill you. Unbelief will cause you to miss out on your inheritance, the promises of God. Unbelief will make it so you never experience God's calming place of rest.
So, what’s a good example in Jesus’ life of something coming upon him so suddenly, so violently that he could have been tempted to think he was going to die or not be able to get out of this one?
“Later that day, after it grew dark, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” After they had sent the crowd away, they shoved off from shore with him, as he had been teaching from the boat, and there were other boats that sailed with them. Suddenly, as they were crossing the lake, a ferocious tempest arose, with violent winds and waves that were crashing into the boat until it was all but swamped. But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” Fully awake, he rebuked the storm and shouted to the sea, “Hush! Calm down!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm. Then he turned to his disciples and said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey him?” Mark 4:35-41
Jesus had just been teaching and pouring himself out to people all day long. It’s dark and Jesus is exhausted. After giving instruction he falls asleep. Remember, Jesus didn’t do things of his own initiative. (John 8:28). He only said what he heard his Father saying. He only did what he saw the Father do. So, he was on a mission, an assignment, to get to the other side of the lake to free a man bound to demons. Satan didn’t want to see this man freed. So, he stirred up a storm to prevent Jesus from going or perhaps even as a way to kill Jesus and all the others with him.
Now I want you to notice the verse says that the storm came suddenly. The disciples included trained fisherman that would know if a storm was coming. They wouldn’t have ventured out if they knew it was unsafe. It was a surprise attack. The Greek word is ginomai and means something that happens unexpectedly or something that catches you off guard. You can relate, right?
Whether Jesus was totally exhausted or he slept in faith, I don’t know for sure, but the story tells us it was a great storm that came suddenly. A mega-storm! Notice it doesn’t say it was raining. It was a storm of wind that stirred the waves. It was an unseen force that swept into their lives that night and threatened to totally destroy them. They couldn’t see the enemy but they surely felt the effects.
It's easy to read stories like this in the Bible and not be moved much by them as we just skim through them or we've heard it before. This is why meditation on the word is so important. Picture what it would be like to be out in the sea in the dark in a violent storm. It was terrifying for the disciples. They thought they were going to die. These were manly men, many that knew the sea, and they were overwhelmed by fear.
So, here’s what I want to point out to you:
But we must be honest with ourselves, the majority of the storms in our life do not come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly, they are simply the consequences of poor decisions made on our own without getting God and his will involved. Most battles, most stress-busting, that we face are in areas where we weren’t obedient to God. We didn’t heed the Holy Spirit’s warning to deal with something in our life before it came to this point. We got off in an area where we thought we could handle it on our own.
When a storm comes, make sure that you have been faithful to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your life. If you haven't, then confess it (admit to it), own it (don't try to blame anyone or anything for it), and repent of it (change your mind about it and go in a different direction). To the best of your knowledge make sure you have left no doors open for an attack.
Remember, stress is simply a sign that you need more Jesus in that area of your life. Stress doesn’t have to stress you out! The pressure, the problem, the trial can simply point you back to Jesus. You can speak to the storm and trust that your good and faithful God will deliver you from all the plans of the enemy and see you through to the other side.
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