We encounter trials, tests, hardships and storms of all kinds throughout our lives. How we respond and interact with these inevitable storms will determine our quality of life and the quality of our relationships. By looking at three storms mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew we can better learn how to respond to the storms of our lives.
The Storm of Surprise (Matthew 8:23-27)
Storms always seem bigger and scarier when we don’t see them coming. Sometimes we can predict the path of a storm and prepare for it. The ones that come up quickly and without warning are difficult and devastating. When this sudden and furious storm came upon the boat there was obvious fear and probably panic, even for experienced fishermen. I would also think the disciples had feelings of abandonment and loneliness – that during this major, life threatening storm their Teacher, their Leader, the One they followed was asleep and uninvolved in their efforts to stay alive! When they could take it no more and had run out of options they screamed at Jesus to wake up and save them. Jesus’ response had to have taken them back, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid” (Matthew 8:26) and then the Son of God calmed the sea. Jesus’s response gives his follower’s a reality check; that he was always and will always be there with them. When a storm surprises us, when we get blindsided and caught off guard, may we remember that our Savior WAS, IS and WILL BE there! Matthew 28:20 Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Storm of Struggle (Matthew 14:22-33)
Unlike the Storm of Surprise, this storm didn’t seem to be immediately threatening their lives. This storm is described as one that was constantly beating against the boat. “[the boat was] buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (Matthew 14:24). The disciples were in a battle, trying everything to stay afloat and the wind and waves seemed to have it out for them. The more they fought against the storm, the stronger the storm seemed to fight back. Exerting mass amounts of energy to just remain topside up. It may not have been a sudden and furious storm…but it was nonetheless a relentless storm. When Jesus comes to them walking on water he gives them the key to surviving this storm: Take Courage, Have Faith and Hold On! Even though they are fighting what seems like an uphill battle, Take Courage! Keep Fighting, Don’t Give Up! Then of all things, after Peter’s response to Jesus walking on water, Jesus calls him out of the boat and into the storm. Literally, to stand and walk on the water in the middle of the storm! Jesus didn’t calm the storm. Instead, he called Peter to stand in the middle of it! Peter had courage and stepped out of the boat…his faith allowed him to walk on water but upon seeing the wind and the waves his faith dwindled and he began to sink. As Peter cried out to Jesus, Jesus immediately caught him and brought him back to the boat! It takes courage to step out of the boat but it takes faith to walk on water! When Jesus doesn’t calm the storm remember that He is there, standing in the middle of the storm with you! He will give you the courage and faith to survive. And when we begin to drown He is there to catch us! Take Courage, Have Faith and Hold On to Jesus! (See Joshua 1:9)
The Storm of Instability (Matthew 7:24-29)
If we are not careful we will live our lives as a balancing act: trying to manage all aspects of our lives. Without realizing it our end goal has become balance. When we focus on managing everything we tend to neglect our foundation. When we have an unstable foundation and then try balancing our life it won’t take much to throw us off and bring everything crashing down! Jesus gives a parable at the end of The Sermon on the Mount that explains the importance of a strong foundation and the consequence of not having a firm foundation on Him. In other words, your foundation determines your survival. If you want to have any hope of surviving the storms you must have your foundation on Jesus! (See Psalm 18:2)
In Your Storms
Notice the commonalities between each of the storms:
1. Jesus led or directed his followers into the storm. Jesus never promises to keep us from the storms but He does promise to be there with us and help us during the storms. You will have storms. Be ready, be prepared, have a strong foundation! A storm is coming…
2. He was always there and within reach. Even when we feel alone, abandoned, helpless and hopeless Jesus is right there with us! Sometimes He is there to clam the storm. Other times He is there to stand in the storm with us. He is always there to catch us and keep our head above the water.
3. After the storm passed, people were in awe and amazed at Jesus. It is difficult to be amazed and in a “worshipful” mood in the middle of a storm. But once the storm passes we will be amazed at how our Savior came through! May we always remember to thank and worship Him after the storms!
Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
March 30, 2014