Matthew Chapter 8:23 – 27
- Struggling in the Storm!
- Strength in the Storm
- An Anchor in the Storm
One of Mosie Lister’s classic hymns, “Keep me safe till the storm passes by” (Gaither Homecoming Group) has been on my mind for some time especially since reading through this interesting passage in the Gospel of Matthew about the storm on the lake.
Several weeks ago, at our Church prayer service, before the coronavirus storm broke upon us, I was led to read and make brief comment on this bible passage, highlighting that in this remarkable incident Jesus’s disciples were ‘Struggling in the Storm’. The context of my remarks related to a dear friend and fine Christian lady in our Church who is ‘struggling in the storm’ with a life-threatening illness and we were earnestly praying for her. This Bible passage showed that for those of us, struggling in the storm, there can be ‘Strength in the Storm’, so we prayed that although Ann was struggling, she would find strength in the storm. In this storm on the lake, the Lord, when awakened from sleep in the boat, challenged the disciples about their faith or rather their lack of it and then rebuked the storm and there was an immediate calm.
“Why are you afraid”? What a question in such a storm.
The Lord’s question in that violent storm, to the disciples, was a serious question; a question perhaps to all of us in our present coronavirus storm; “Why are you afraid”? It’s some question.
This was a real storm, not a squall, but an unexpected and fierce storm, something that shook the boat and threatened the lives of all on board. The incident took place on the lake of Galilee which has the same proportions as our own famous Loch Lomond.
Not all storms come suddenly. In today’s world, many of life’s storms, whether they affect our personal lives, our health or business, can be detected in advance whilst others geographically and metrologically can be tracked from a distance and their strike timed accurately, enabling safety precautions to be made. In human terms, fear is a factor in any storm and prove almost impossible for people not to be afraid or apprehensive and so we have millions of people right now around the world, in this unprecedented global storm, afraid and struggling.
Struggling in the Storm:
The present coronavirus storm sweeping our nation and the world with soaring death rates is striking fear into people’s lives, fear for their life, health, suffering, heartbreak, unemployment, financial ruin and hardship, loneliness and for the unknown future.
In early December 2004, I was in Thailand to organise the printing of a major publication and had a small Thai project team to manage this over a continuous 4-month period. On 27 Dec. I received a cryptic text from KC the team leader which read “Andy big terrible storm here, in deep trouble please pray to your God”. The tsunami had struck Thailand on Boxing Day; my team with their partners and children had gone to Phi Phi islands, in the south east of the country for the Christmas break prior to the heavy workload ahead of them. Four team members died and KCs young daughter of 6 years whom they had waited 9 years for, was among the hundreds missing. Despite days of searching she was never found. I re-visited in the March following to try and support and encourage but just saw people with broken hearts, struggling in the storm. A storm of tragedy, loss and grief but trying to move on with their lives.
Storms cause people to struggle.
Nearer home, I’ve been involved the past 3 years in a new business based in Edinburgh and Glasgow which has seen great success and growth. Despite this, the coronavirus storm has now caused us to revert from planning further growth to planning future survival which involves, laying people off and highlighting the potential serious business risks for everyone in the months ahead. These fine people are like thousands of others, in human terms, now ‘struggling in the storm’.
It seems impossible not to be afraid, apprehensive, have worries or sleepless nights thinking about what might be ahead. This is a real storm and many people are struggling in it.
Strength in the Storm:
The remarkable thing which these disciples discovered in the Galilean Lake storm was that one person during it all was SLEEPING. “Jesus was sleeping”. The disciples in panic woke Him, crying “Lord save us, we’re going to drown” . This was a real life-threatening storm and their fear of drowning was real. The Lord’s incredible response. “How small is your faith, why are you so afraid?”
How we need strength in the storm as the storms of life today are becoming more and more challenging to our faith and Christians are not immune or exempt from life’s storms which bring fears, anxieties and heartbreak. At times its difficult or seemingly impossible not to be afraid, fear of survival, fear of tomorrow with its uncertainties; fear of failure; fear for our careers, anxious for our families. Anxiety can so easily dominate our lives, especially in times like the present.
Life comes with fear but with the Lord’s help we need to manage our fears by trying not to live in a state of fear or placing ourselves in positions of fear, recognising fear will often knock on our doors. None the less “God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.
He challenged the disciples about their faith or lack of it and questioned as to why they were afraid. The stunning response from the disciples “What kind of man is this?”.
In practical terms and in relation to the coronavirus storm we take great strength from the leadership of Government, from the skills and professionalism of medics, scientists and the care and compassion of dedicated NHS staff. We take strength from the great survival spirit and supportive attitudes of volunteers, businesspeople, public servants and many others across the whole spectrum, which forms the very core of our great nation.
It is important to acknowledge the spiritual dimension there is to this storm and other storms in life where many of us may be ‘struggling in the storm’. Whether it be through illness, bereavement, loneliness, hardship, relationships or other private burdens; we need to believe that our spiritual Strength in the Storm comes from the Lord, the sovereign God who is in control. In circumstances like the present it is a test of our faith to believe that God is in control, but He is the One who brings true strength and real calm. The need of the hour, like that of the disciples, is a call of prayer to be made for our nation, that we may see this coronavirus storm relent and a calm emerge with many lives being spared and helped to find strength.
An Anchor in the Storm:
The anchor has one purpose, to steady the boat. To weather the storm, we need a good anchor, one which is stronger than the storm, one that will never break free. The question is, where is my anchor? What am I anchored to? Is what I’m anchored to stronger than the storm? Stronger than what I’m going through?
In this Bible incident the disciples fear of drowning turned to one of amazement, uttering the words “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him”. The attention of these men was no longer on the storm but on the Saviour. These strugglers in the storm not only found strength in the storm, they had an anchor.
Everyone is anchored to something. We need an anchor that is secure, unshakeable and safe, Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope, as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” . The writer Max Lucado says this is “an unbreakable promise and an unshakable hope”.
The Boys Brigade hymn:-
We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure will the billows roll
Fastened to the rock which cannot move grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
Today, if we’re Struggling in the Storm may we find Strength, have an Anchor and pray, Lord
“Keep me safe till the storm passes by” .
In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of your hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
Many times, Satan whispered “there is no need to try
for there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by”
But I know Thou art with me, and forever I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies.
by Andy Speirs