There is much about life that we can celebrate and that brings us joy: friends, family, hobbies, and for some of us, even work. But there are also many things about life that can be challenging and even downright discouraging: bills, unexpected repairs, illness, and for many of us, even work. Sometimes our challenges are just a part of the everyday fabric of our lives. Other times they come up suddenly and unexpectedly. And at still other times, our challenges are like a storm on the horizon that looms out before us and is rapidly approaching, soon to be upon us whether we like it or not.
The reality is that much about our lives is made up of circumstances that are beyond our control. And yet, how much energy do we spend worrying or complaining about these things that we have no control over? While there are many things that we can not control, there is also so much about our lives that we have choices about. Many times we are able to choose which way we will go. Other times we simply have a choice about how we will respond to what we are facing.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discouraged worrying about what was beyond our control and instead encouraged trusting in God. This is true of the approaching storms of life as well. We read in Proverbs 3:5-6 that we should “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” We can choose trust over worry. And we can choose to look for what God is doing in the midst of the storm instead of berating God and the world for the swirling storm surging against us.
Living in the midst of a raging storm is a place in which few of us desire to dwell, whether figuratively or literally. And yet, it can be in the midst of the storm that some of our most profound breakthroughs take place. For instance, think with me about the time in which Jesus sent his disciples ahead while he went to spend time in prayer. As they crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat, a storm came upon them. The wind was howling and the waves were crashing. The disciples were already afraid when they looked up to see what appeared to be a ghost crossing the water.
Then one of the disciples realized that it was Jesus walking across the water. And Peter cried out, “Lord, if it is you call me to come to you.” It was Jesus and He called Peter to step out onto the water. Even though he was in the midst of the storm with the wind and the waves, Peter did step out onto the water and he took several steps before beginning to sink.
More often than not, we give Peter a hard time about this story. We focus on his lack of faith as he walked on the water and how he began to sink because of it. But the flip side of this is to recognize that in the midst of the raging storm, Peter did what none of us have ever done. He trusted in Jesus to the point that he was able to take a few steps on the water. It was in the midst of a storm that Peter had a profound experience and breakthrough. And it was in the midst of the storm that Jesus reached out his hand and saved Peter from his own fear and failure.
Perhaps in those times that we see an approaching storm, part of our prayer can be for us to be receptive to what God would do within us both in and through that storm. This is easier said than done, and yet with the words of scripture to guide us and the presence of a community of faith to support us (in you are not already a part of a faith community, consider checking these out); perhaps we can choose in the midst of those circumstances that are beyond our control to look for and to live into what God is doing within us.