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In the Midst of the Storm

August 3, 2020

Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:30b

A few years ago, I read the following quote from a very famous person: “I have self-doubt.  I have insecurity.  I have fear of failure.  I have nights when I show up .  .  .  and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt.  I don’t have it.  I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt.”

Have you ever felt so depleted that all you could do was lie on the floor and pray?   That’s where Job was when we pick up his story in this week’s Scripture lessons.[1]  He had been asking for answers to his questions about why he was forced to endure terrible suffering for years on end.  God doesn’t answer him directly, but responds by asking Job questions: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? .  .  . Have you given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? .  . .  Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?”  (Job 38: 4, 12, 18).  Where were you, Mr. Know-It-All-Job when I did all of that?

God was telling Job what our four-year old son, Bobby, said in Sunday School 31 years ago: “Our minds are puny compared to God’s.”   It isn’t that God didn’t empathize with Job.  Scripture tells us that God weeps with us (Jeremiah 14:17; John 11:35).  But as the Sovereign Creator of the universe, only he understands why he allows storms to envelop even his most faithful servants.  Our puny minds are like grains of sand on the beach compared the oceanic mind of our Omniscient God.  We cannot even begin to comprehend the mind of God.

Notice that “the Lord answered Job out of the storm” (Job 38: 1).  God comes to us often in the midst of life’s storms.   When we are in the throes of difficult challenges–when we are paralyzed by fear or depression, anxious about the future, filled with foreboding and self-doubt, numbed by the loss of a loved one—God is there, holding out his hand to us.  Our job is to hang on—to keep the faith, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and he will carry us through.

David sang, ”The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  (Psalm 18: 2).  I don’t know about you, but I have needed a refuge many times, as did David and Job.

Peter also knew that he could depend on Jesus.  He didn’t wake up one morning saying to himself, “Gee, I think I’ll test the laws of physics today by trying to walk on water.”  No.  Jesus opened the door for him, by appearing to the disciples on the water.  But it was Peter who said, “Lord, if it’s you . . . tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28).  It was Peter’s idea to walk on the water to his Lord.  Peter knew that Jesus had the power to facilitate the watery walk.  He knew that Jesus could make it happen.  He trusted Jesus.  If it truly was Jesus, and he said it was ok, why not?  And guess what?  Jesus extended the invitation: “Come” (v.29).

That was all Peter needed.  He accepted the invitation, “got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (v. 29).  When he saw the wind, and became fearful, he did what we should do—he called out to Jesus: “Lord, save me” (v.30).  Quoting the prophet Joel, Paul assures us that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32).  Peter called out to Jesus with the shortest and most powerful prayer of the Bible:  “Save me.”   My mother was in almost constant pain and discomfort for the last 20-25 years of her life.  It was not uncommon to hear her cry out “God, help me,” when she moved in a particular way causing a sharp, unexpected pain.  God hears our prayers of desperation and suffering.

These Scriptures remind us that God is with us during times of great distress and difficulty.  He is there when we are going through a series of unfortunate events.   Yet it is in the most challenging times of our lives that God sometimes beckons us to a better path.  But often we are afraid to leave the path we’re on.  We are afraid to get out of the boat. We are afraid to leave the security of our routines—to take a leap of faith.  When he says, “Come,” we often make excuses: “I can’t do it,” or “I don’t have time,” or “It’s too hard,” or “I can’t afford to do it now”  or “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”

Answer his call when he says “Come.” When the storms and the winds of life buffet you about, he is there to keep you steady. To save you.  To see you through.  You can depend on it.  Spend time in prayer and meditation and seek the Spirit’s guidance.

The quote from the famous person?  The late great Kobe Bryant.  Yes, Virginia, we all have self-doubts, even Kobe Bryant had them.  But as Christians, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, and remain faithful throughout the storm, he will see us through safely and bring us to the other side, when we will see him face-to-face.  And we do not know when that day will come, so we should be ready.

Prayer: Lord, I am taking refuge in you.  I am seeking to do your will in all that I do for as much time as you give me on this earth. You are my rock; you hold me steady in life’s storms.  You are my shield; you protect me against the slings and arrows from friends and foes.  You are my strength and my salvation.  Guide my steps. Shelter me under the wings of angels.  Amen. (Based on Psalm 18).

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost are Job 38: 4-18; Psalm 18; Romans 10: 5-17; Matthew 14: 22-33. A similar version of this blog was published on this site in August 2017.