Peace: The Backside of the Storm
What is our biggest fear?
What is our biggest fear?
During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Kruschev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. In the midst of his speech a heckler shouted "You were one of his colleagues why didn’t you stop him?"
Kruschev screamed, "Who said that?" There was a deathly silence as nobody in the room dared moved a muscle. Then Kruschev said, "Now you know why?"
Fear will silence us. Fear will confuse us. And fear can paralyze us.
It’s like the coils of a snake slowly tighting around its victim so that when it breathes out it it cannot take in a breath.
We all have fears, Amen? Fear of spiders, clowns, dogs, flying, death....
What is your biggest fear? What is our (humanities) biggest fear? What about in the church?
(the fear of death)
The fear of Death can be debilitating.
It can stop us “dead in our tracks.”
The Fear of Death will cause us to do some pretty crazy things....
“The fear of death, follows the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at anytime.” — Mark Twain
The fear of death is what causes us to purchase these (guns).... to avoid certain (high risk) activities.... (types of) people.... places (known to be dangerous).....
Its why people don’t fly… go on cruises… ride motorcycles (though I really don’t understand that one!)....
But.... Let me ask you this:
Is the death we fear merely physical? (No!)
Many of us fear financial death… social death… emotional death…
But....let me ask you this — Do we (Christians) really have anything to fear?
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
So, Does that mean that we should never experience fear in our lives?
I mean… if we are Christians should fear never be a part of our lives? (No!) Is fear a sin? (No!)
Fear is a fact of life in this world. Even the disciples experienced fear....
Look at Mark 4:35-41:
At this point in the story, Mark gives us a narrative that the other gospel writers do not. I think he wanted us to understand something here....
If we back up to the beginning of the chapter, Mark tells us that Jesus was on the beach, teaching the people, and such a large group of people gathered that He had to get into a boat and push out just little bit from the shore. From there He taught the crowd.
Jesus tells them four parables: The parable of the Sower, the lamp under the bushel, the parable of the growing seed, and the parable of the mustard seed.
All four of these parables have to do with faith and sharing our faith.... I think Jesus might be making a point here! (lol)
After teaching the crowd, Jesus tells them, “Let’s go to the other side.” So, they set out across the sea....
Now.... pay attention to this part..... Jesus is tired, He’s worn out from the days’ activity....so, He goes to sleep in the stern of the boat, and shortly after, a storm arises....
Now, these men were experienced fishermen.... they had sailed the sea before.... They knew how to handle storms, yet..... This storm was so powerful that is terrified them! It had them so terrified that....They thought they were going to die!
Yet, Jesus was doing what? Sleeping!
Can you imagine what they must have been feeling?!
I mean.... Doesn’t Jesus care?!
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Do you see what is happening here?
They have traveled with Jesus.... they’ve seen Him perform miracles.... They’ve heard His teaching.... and — at least to some extent — they’ve put their faith in Him.....
And yet…even though they are in His presence... when the storm hit, they are terrified!
I want you to see something important here.
The “sea” is often used as a metaphor for “Chaos, danger, troubles, threats,...”
You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
Now…look at what Jesus did:
Jesus stands up and softly, calmly, confidently commands the storm to stop....
With just a wordJesus calmed the “sea”: “Peace, Be still!”
He did not shout it.... He did not yell it.... He simply spoke!
If even the seas answer to Christ, what do we have to fear? What did the disciples have to fear?
And yet..... The they were still afraid....
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Some translations say “were filled with great awe”.... That translation is incorrect.
The Greek used here is “Megas Phobos” — Great Fear — which literally means “they were terrified!” This is the same idea that is used to describe the sailors in Jonah’s story.
This is the part of the story that we don’t like.... This is the part we like to avoid coming to terms with because… it is not comfortable! Because it challenges us...
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Jesus calls them out! Where they should have had faith — especially after having witnessed all that they have to this point — the disciples were terrified!
Instead of holding to a faith that overcomes fear, the disciples experienced a debilitating fear....
Instead of realizing that Messiah — the savior of the world — was in their presence and therefore nothing could happen to them… they were overcome by their fear....
Faith is supposed to overcome fear! But where was their faith?
Now, don’t get me wrong.... fear is natural, it is a part of life, it is not sin, but — “debilitating” fear, the kind the disciples experienced here is!
Because it stifles our trust in God.
You see — It is not about whether or not we experience fear in our lives. Fear is natural.
It is about what we DO with our fear!
In that moment, the disciples were “acting like” the rest of the world — cowering in fear of the world…of their circumstances…instead of standing in faith in the presence of God.
Let’s face it.... We will all face storms from time to time.
that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Storms will come.... It is how we react to the storms that matters.
The disciples walked with Christ, yet they still found themselves in the storm. Just because we are saved....just because we follow Jesus....just because He loves us.... does not mean that we will not face storms.
Let me ask you this....
What is the storm you are facing today?
Storms can come at anytime.... and when they do, they threaten our peace, our comfort, and our joy!
They bring fear....doubt…and hopelessness. You may find yourself going through some of the darkest times in your life right now....
What is your storm?
Is it a storm in your marriage…a relationship....finances....work....school…ministry.....disease....?
There are many people out there dealing with storms in their lives. let me tell you — You are not alone.....
Maybe your in a storm of adultery....addiction....divorce…rejection? Maybe it’s a storm of betrayal or bankruptsy? Maybe it’s a storm of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse? Maybe it’s doubt and fear?
Whatever the storm in your life is, it is certain that these storms leave in their wake a path of destruction — filled with shattered lives and broken dreams.
Are you in a storm that has turned your dreams into nightmares? Does it feel like the sun will never shine again? Like things are never going to get better?
Let me tell you — They will! Don’t give up!
I may not — and do not — know what you are going through, but one thing I do know is that God is with you. And He will never leave you....
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
That’s a promise!
No matter what the storm you are facing is, there is peace to be found within it, but.... fear will prevent us from finding it.
That is why God tells us....
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
When Noah faced the Flood… there is no doubt that he experienced doubt and fear, but he placed his trust in God, and God brought him and his family through it.
And when the rains subsided, and the flood waters receded, God placed a rainbow in the sky to remind Noah of His promise of love…care…and provision for the world....
Rainbows are are a display of the presence of Light in the midst of darkness.
They are a reminder that the storms of life are temporary....that there is hope....and that God is with us. (Amen?)
So, whatever you are going through… Hold on! Don’t give up. It is temporary. God will see you through it.
God’s promises are sure, amen?!
We can hold onto them, because He will never fail us! If we will continually place our trust — our faith — in Him, He will bring us peace, joy, and hope!
But…let’s be honest.... That’s not always easy to do is it?
Quite often the “storms” cause us to doubt the promises of God.... Quite often they leave is feeling alone…afraid…and thinking that God would do for others, but not for us...
But, I promise you — That is not true!
God is bigger than our storms!
He is bigger than our problems.... He is bigger than anything and everything this world can throw at us!
And, He WILL see us through.
John Chrysostom, in the face of severe persecution and exile from Empress Eudoxia of Constantinople, said this:
“What can I fear? Will it be death? But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth and it’s fullness are the Lord’s. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for; and from death I do not shrink.”
During WWII, a military governor in Sicily praised Gen. George Patton for his courage and bravery, to which Patton replied: “Sir, I am not a brave man.... The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in the sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands.”
Years later, in his autobiography, Patton wrote:
“I learned early on in my life never to take counsel from my fears.”
Both Chrysostom and Patton understood, just as Mark Twain did, that Fear prevents Life.
So, which will you let control your life?
Will it be fear, or faith?
Because the truth is that it will be one or the other.
With every trial....with every challenge…with every storm that life brings to us, we are faced with a choice — Either we will allow it to overcome us because of our fear, or we will place our faith in the promises of God, and allow Christ to step in and proclaim peace in the midst of the storm.
I want to urge you today.....
Don’t give up! No matter the storm....no matter how hopeless the situation…no matter how powerful the storm seems to be, God is with us.
— Secure your foundation in Him. If you have not accepted Christ into your life.... If you have not given yourself completely to Him.... If you find that you have lost sight of His grace in your life....and that you are holding things back from Him.... then get back into fellowship with Him!
— Get into the Word. When the storms hit, get into His Word. That is how He speaks to us. That is where He gives us comfort and strength.
There is nothing more comforting in the middle of the storm then God’s Word..... And there is no other place to find strength.
— Pray without ceasing. Pray fervently. Pray persistently. Turn your worries into prayer, before they turn into fear. Turn to other prayer warriors… let them help carry your burdens to God. Lay your burdens on Him.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
— Get into Praise and Worship. There is nothing more powerful and uplifting in the storm than to get out in the rain with God and dance!
If you don’t believe me…try it! (I challenge you to come to worship in a a horrible mood, and try to sty that way!)
— Don’t be afraid! Christ asked: “Why are you afraid?” Often in the storm our first reaction is to panic. Are you feeling distressed…uneasy…worried…upset…apprehensive…agitated…fretful…restless…nervous....? Then give it to God and TRUST Him to take care of it.
Fear in the midst of the storm is an indication of a lack of faith in God. You can trust Him. Because.... (now hear this)
God specializes in hopeless situations.
— Refuse to worry.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Worry imagines the worst. Worry only brings trouble. It is destructive…useless…and a complete waste of time.
We overcome worry by fixing our thoughts on the things of God.
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Make no mistake — The Storms of Life will come. It is what we do with them that matters.
We do not have to fear them. God is with us, and He will see us through.
He gives us the promise of peace on the backside of the storm.
However, we can only experience this peace if we place our faith in Him.
Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the flames — the storms — of affliction will not destroy us. We may not see Him, or feel His presence, but God is always there!
The battle may be fierce… the storms may be raging…, but He will not forsake us, and we will not be swept away.
Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm, and He is saying to our hearts, “Take courage, do not be afraid. I am here.”
(Invitation and prayer) (even those of us who have accepted need to pray this prayer)
God, I come to You today, acknowledging that I am a sinner… who needs forgiveness. I believe that You died for me, and that You rose again on the third day… so that I could receive new life in You. Forgive me… Wash me with Your blood and write my name in the Lamb’s book of life. Lord, I commit myself to You. Help me to walk in this “new life” you have given me. Thank you for saving me… in Jesus name.
Father, I thank You. I thank You for Your Grace in my life. I thank You for the Love You pour out on us. I thank You for those who have prayed this prayer with me today. May they grow in the grace You have given them.
Father, lead them to a church family that will nurture their faith. Strengthen them for the challenges of Faith that lay ahead of them. Help them to stand firm in the commitment they have made to their “new life” in You.
Father, we stand today in the truth that You will never leave us or forsake us. We commit to You, today, that no matter how violent the storm, no matter how overwhelming it may seem, with Your help, we will not fear.
Oh Lord, Help us to sense Your presence in our times of need.... Help us to sense Your presence in everything we do.
Father, increase our faith in You, in the things eternal, and be our hope in the storms of life.... in Jesus Name, Amen.