• 4 December 2023

Chapter 11 – Faith in the Storm

What’s our biggest problem as Christians? I suggest it is that we don’t know God enough, we don’t trust Him enough, we don’t love Him enough and we don’t pray to Him enough.

This is not a new problem and, in a strange way, we should find that encouraging. Long ago another group of Christians had the same problem – Jesus’s disciples. They lived with the Lord for three years and their general slowness should encourage us that God is patient and loving and always seeking to draw us nearer to Himself.

Jesus knew exactly what was coming. He knew there was going to be a storm. He deliberately placed his followers in harm’s way. Being close to the Lord is no guarantee of a trouble-free life. Rather, it is the reverse.

God may lead us into suffering so that he can show us more of Himself. As I put it in my own case, ‘The cancer cells meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.’

The uncertainty, difficulties for my family, pain, frustrations and fear are all there, but the joy of being involved in the Lord’s work, of seeing Him at work in those I’ve been able to introduce to Christ has been really wonderful. In fact, I’ve had more opportunities to share my faith in the last seven years than the previous fifty combined.

Where’s the ultimate place that we see evil turned to good? When we stand at the foot of the cross. The devil and all the forces of hell meant it for evil, but God used it for our good.

When faced with the storm, I am sure the disciples did all the things that experienced sailors would do: turn the boat into the wind, trim the sails, head for shore, bail out the water – but they didn’t do the one blindingly obvious thing they should have done. They did not ask the incarnate God who was right at hand for help. Even when they do ask in desperation, they do so in a rough way.

They say, ‘Don’t you care?’ (Mk. 4:38). How hard it is for them to pray! How small their faith! Likewise, how hard for us to pray and how small our faith can be.

Corrie Ten Boom once said, ‘When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.’

But let us be encouraged to pray, for how kind the Lord is towards the disciples. How patient He is. Yes, He reproves them, but He does so out of deep love.

God is so kind and patient towards us despite all our serious shortcomings. ‘As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him’ (Ps. 103:13). God sees all the things that are wrong with us. He sees our laziness, our weak faith, our lack of love, our secret sins, our cold hearts and our prayerlessness. And what does He do? He is full of what the Bible calls in Hebrew ‘Chesed’, which the Reformers in the sixteenth century translated as ‘loving-kindness’.

Out of this loving-kindness comes amazing divine power. Billions and billions of molecules are rearranged and suddenly there is dead calm. Winds may drop but a storm-tossed body of water takes a long time to drop. In a second all is quiet, all is still. Such is the power of the divine Word. It utterly transforms their circumstances.

What is the disciples’ reaction? They are even more afraid! What’s the answer to fear? More fear! After all, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom’ (Ps. 111:10). It begins to dawn on them who this ordinary-looking man asleep in the boat is. When they left the boat they knew Him more than when they got in.

Isn’t that what we need? To know the Lord more. To love Him more. To pray to Him more. For as the Puritan preacher Thomas Goodwin says, ‘The person who knows Christ best is the person who will pray best.’

Excerpt from Hope in the face of suffering – 20 devotions for tough times by Jeremy Marshall

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