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Staying Faithful in Storms

Week_25_Enduring Storms

Staying Faithful in Storms

Ships don’t sink because there is water around them, they sink when water gets inside them. Don’t let what is happening around you get inside of you and weigh you down.
 
Many people in Jesus’ day were terrified of the sea. They believed giant monsters lived in the sea and that there were portals to hell at the bottom of them. Perhaps Jesus picked fishermen to be His disciples because they were brave. They were brave enough to sit in a tip-able boat every day on top of these portals to hell. Or, maybe Jesus chose fishermen because they were not superstitious. Non-superstitious people are naturally skeptical. This means they were likely to stay faithful to Jesus when they eventually believed He was who He said He was. They wouldn’t just follow every new, popular superstition. 
 
Mark 4:35-41 tells the story of a day when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat when a storm hit. The disciples were terrified that the boat would sink, but Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat, resting with his head on a pillow. The disciples woke Jesus and asked Him why He didn’t care if they drowned, but Jesus still wasn’t afraid. Instead, He reprimanded the wind and commanded the waves. He told the storm to be quiet, and a profound calm enveloped the sea. Turning to his disciples, Jesus asked, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples, filled with awe, asked each other, “Who is this man? Even the wind and waves obey him!”
 
When we talk about Jesus calming the storm, we usually jump to metaphors. The storm is a metaphor of temptation, of pain, or of people who have hurt us. There’s value in those, but the real lesson of the story is all about faith. Put your faith in Jesus, and the storms cannot defeat you. The Good News is very good. Jesus didn’t just help them endure the storm. He calmed the storm.
 
Now that we’re on the other side of the resurrection, we see that Jesus’ invitation to put our faith in Him isn’t about faith for our physical protection, but about faith for eternal protection. We are more than our bodies because faith gives us eternal life.
 
Put your faith in Jesus, and you will live forever. Christians, nothing can kill you. It’s not a promise of physical comfort. It’s a gift of eternal life.
 
There are only a few reasons people choose not to put their faith in Jesus. They might be said in many different ways, but none of the objections are new objections. Let’s wrestle with some of those reasons:
 
  1. Some people doubt God because bad things happen.
 
People who are skeptical of the Christian God often believe that if God were real, then bad things wouldn’t happen so often. In other words, they’re looking for more miracles. For God to keep bad things from happening, He would have to perform miracles everywhere and always.
 
I once heard a story about a pastor and a skeptical barber who lived in a small town. They often engaged in spirited discussions about faith and the existence of God. One day, the barber declared, “There’s no God; too many bad things happen.” Undaunted, the pastor replied, “What makes you think there’s no God?” Their conversation continued until the pastor’s haircut was finished. As he left the barber shop, the pastor noticed a man with long, untamed hair and a shaggy beard. The pastor invited the man back into the barber shop and said to the barber, “I don’t believe barbers exist.” Perplexed, the barber asked, “Why not?” The pastor responded, “If barbers exist, why would someone have long hair like this?”
 
If you don’t search for God, you probably won’t find Him. When God offers a solution to your problems that you don’t like, it doesn’t mean He didn’t offer the solution. It just means you didn’t receive the solution.
 
If God tells you that healing your body is not what is best for you, you can choose to believe Him or not. But, your belief does not change whether He is right or not. In that case, it’s not that you don’t believe in God, but that you believe you are god. If we believe God exists, then it’s logical to believe that He has a better idea of what is good than we do. If God is real, we shouldn’t expect Him to follow us. We follow Him.
 
Other people have the opposite problem.
 
  1. Some people doubt God because they are skeptical of miracles.
 
Rather than expecting God to perform miracles everywhere and all the time, some people don’t believe miracles are possible at all.
 
Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God because He does such amazing things, but isn’t that what you’d expect from God? If He claimed to create the world, then didn’t do any miracles, you would question Him. Would you want to worship a limited god? A god who struggles like we do?
 
The world is hungry, but the world’s menu offers no sustenance for the soul. Questions like “How did the world begin?” and “What makes life meaningful?” are met with silence. Even inquiries about the source of our moral compass receive no satisfying answers.
 
Yet, the world insists on presenting its so-called “specials.” These include pictures of airbrushed people, shallow entertainment, and the allure of unbridled indulgence. They entice with flavors that tantalize the taste buds, but leave an insatiable hunger within.
 
In contrast, Christians recognize the profound richness of their own menu. They ponder, “Wait, God came to earth and sacrificed for me, and you’re offering images of superficial beauty and Prozac?” It’s a profound contrast that highlights the depth of faith in a world that is often consumed by superficial pleasures.
 
  1. Some people choose not to put their faith in Jesus because Christians have hurt them.
 
Choosing not to trust Jesus because other people who trust Jesus make mistakes is an illogical response.
 
The truth is that Christians are statistically better at life than the rest of the world. We’re happier, healthier, and much more generous. That does not mean all Christians act like Christ all of the time. A parent could have three great kids, a bad experience with one of them doesn’t mean the parent is bad. It means kids are kids. They’re going to make mistakes.
 
Christians, if we want people to follow Him, we need to set a good example of what that looks like. To non-Christians, be patient with us. We will make mistakes, but don’t reject God just because we screw up. The problem isn’t His leadership. The problem is that sometimes we don’t follow well.
 
Have you ever seen a palm tree in a windstorm? It’s amazing to watch as they bend dramatically in the wind. They flex so far that it looks like they will break, but they don’t. Palm trees have bounce-back. They can withstand incredible winds because when the wind bends them, they bounce back. Do you have bounce-back? Psalms tells us that that is what faith gives us. In fact, storms strengthen the roots of palm trees.
But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. 13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.
God allows the storms in our lives because they have a way of growing our faith. Those who are truly God’s children grow in storms.
 
At the triumphal entry, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, people waved palm branches. What they didn’t know was that a storm was coming. Some people broke in that storm, but other people saw Jesus’ incredible act of love and were strengthened.
 
We celebrate because Jesus has accomplished everything necessary for us to be His children, to be transplanted to God’s own house. Put your faith in Him, and the promise of eternal life is yours!
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