Recently I was reading about "the perfect storm." Not the movie that was recently released, but one found in the pages of Scripture. We will get to my reasoning for this observation in a few minutes.
I am referring to the account in Mark 4:35-41. It is a fascinating true story of a group of individuals who, due to no fault of their own, were placed in the most precarious position of their lives. They found themselves in a small boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in the midst of the worst storm they had ever experienced.
The situation had become desperate. The vessel was nearly swamped (4:37), and Jesus' disciples had given up all hope of survival (4:38). Jesus was asleep in the stern of the ship and they had to awaken him in order to "warn" him.
Now, before we go any further, let's analyze the situation of these panic stricken mariners.
They had faithfully followed the Lord Jesus Christ. He told them to climb aboard and head for the other side of the lake and they had obeyed without question. It wasn't like they had "drifted away from Him." He was within arm's reach!
Why then, were they forced in to this perilous circumstance? Why were they convinced they were about to drown? Why does Jesus allow difficult things to happen to those who are walking close to him? What are the reasons behind the "storms" in our lives?
The answers to these questions and more are provided when we take a closer look.
Shortly after their proclamation of doom (4:38), Jesus stood and calmed the storm. Then he turned and rebuked them for their lack of faith. Lack of faith? Even though they had been faithful followers (at least in their eyes), Jesus knew they still had much to learn.
Their statement, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" reveals their ignorance about their Savior. He cared more then they could have imagined. Not long after this incident he would sacrifice himself on a cross to prove how much he cared for them (and us).
What then, was the purpose of the storm? Why do we face difficulties beyond what we feel we can stand? Let me offer some reasons:
First, because they teach us lessons we wouldn't learn any other way. Sometimes things must get drastic before we are willing to change our perspective. If the disciples had been told that they were about to be caught in the worst storm of their lives, you can bet they would have refused to get into the boat. But when they saw Jesus calm the tempestuous sea, their lives were changed forever (4:41).
It was an experience none of them could have anticipated, and they had a brand new perspective of their Savior. They had to go through the storm to learn the lesson he had for them. Lessons learned in the storms of life are not easily forgotten.
Another benefit that presents itself is the fact that we are forced to reexamine our priorities. Often our greatest problems are within us, not in the circumstances around us. Their worst danger was not the wind and waves, it was the unbelief they had in their hearts. Their unbelief had caused their fear, and their fear had caused them to doubt Christ.
I'm sure they had tried everything humanly possible, and their best efforts were not good enough. A number of these disciples had grown up on and around that lake. They were not wimps. They had done all they could, except the one thing Jesus wanted them to do all along: trust him.
This was "the perfect storm" because it drew these men closer to the Lord and taught them lessons they needed for the rest of their lives.
The Lord wants the same for us. When circumstances get to be too much for us to handle, it should serve as a reminder that we have a Savior bigger than any storm.
As a wise person once said, "The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you". Have you placed your faith and trust in the One who can calm any storm?
Phil Reemtsma is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church at 208 Lawton Drive in Kenai.
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