We knew it was a possibility. One of the largest employers in our area — a Fortune 500 company — made some bad business decisions years ago. For the last 18 months, we watched them try to restructure. They couldn’t recover fast enough and implemented a third round of layoffs. As they cut to bare bones, our son was collateral damage.
We got the text early one morning. By noon, we were talking it over with our son, oscillating between processing details of the situation and talking about faith. By the end of the day, I was still savoring the aroma of grace and pondering two statements my son made.
An opportunity to trust
My son’s text that morning started like this:
I have an awesome opportunity to trust God!
I got laid off effective today.
It took me a few seconds to process that text. It reminded me of a children’s book he always loved, “That’s good. That’s bad.” All through the story, events that appear positive turn out to be negative and vice versa. As a child, he loved to recite the opposite before I had a chance to read it. “That’s bad,” I would read. “No, that’s good,” he would say and then we would switch.
On this day, as the storm raged, he effectively looked out and said, “What a great opportunity to take my boat out for a test drive.”
This is the reality of faith. We feed our faith with truth and knowledge of God’s promises and His faithfulness, but we test our faith during the storm.
When every faith muscle clings to the mast, holding on for dear life as the storm rages, and our soul resolutely proclaims, “It is well” — growth occurs. We may not notice it at the time, but when the winds calm, we look down and notice the callouses and bulging biceps, and smile as we quip, “Look at those guns.”
My husband loves the song Through it all and quotes this line often:
“I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through.
If I never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know He could solve them.
I wouldn’t know what faith in His Word would do.”
Faith is fueled by trials. This is the essence of Peter’s declaration:
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:6-7)
Peter tells us the premier benefit of trials is for the believer. When Christians come through storms still trusting God, they are assured their faith is real. Before trials, it’s theory and theology. Trials turn theory into substance and send theology pulsing through every vein.
What else is there?
As we talked about faith and the belief that God would provide, my son looked at me and simply said, “What else is there?”
The apostle Peter effectively said the same thing to Jesus at a time when others were deserting him. Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
The night before this conversation, the disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee and the wind began to rage and the sea began to billow. Jesus came to them walking on water and they were afraid. He offered seven words that changed everything in their anxious hearts, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” (John 6:15-20)
Peter would later understand just how important it was to fix his eyes on Jesus in the middle of the storm. Scripture records these words before Peter sank after first walking on water toward Jesus, “But when [Peter] saw the wind …”
You see, the storm will rage and the wind will blow.
We can’t control the storm, but we can choose where we fix our eyes.
Peter offers us both “That’s good” and “That’s bad” examples through his life. When our eyes are so fixed on Jesus that we can say, “Where else would we go? What else is there?” then we are more likely to hear Him whisper, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” That changes everything. But if we take our eyes off Jesus and fixate on the storm, we will find ourselves sinking.
Peace! Be Still!
I sometimes wonder if the Spirit inspired the writers to record so many literal storm scenes from Jesus’ short time on earth to point us to the bigger picture about life.
At yet another time, Jesus was in the boat with the disciples when a great windstorm arose suddenly. Waves were breaking into the boat and the vessel was taking on much water. Where was Jesus during all this turmoil? Asleep. (Mark 4:35-41)
The disciples woke him up with an accusation, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”
Oh, how the enemy would love to convince us that’s true. Shoot, we don’t even need an enemy for that … just unleash our flesh in the middle of a storm for even a second and those are some of the first words it will scream. “God, do you even care about my storm?”
That’s why we need reminded of the truth.
Our Savior walks on water to meet us in the storm,
He is the one who saves us from sinking when we’ve stared at the storm,
and He is the one who commands the storm, “Be still,” when the storm has accomplished its purposes.
If you are there now, fix your eyes on the Savior and listen for his voice. Until He chooses to address the storm, He whispers to your soul: “Peace! Be Still!”
We serve a Savior whom even the winds and the waves obey — and that includes the winds and the waves of your heart. He says simply, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” With those words in mind, it can be well with our souls, even when it is not well with our circumstances.
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