How do you respond to storms?
Over the past few weeks, the United States has become tossed about by a storm known as the Coronavirus. And while our country’s leaders frantically try to raise the storm sails, many of us have become quarantined to our homes while our businesses lose traction, our children bounce off the walls, and our jobs become more stressful.
Although this storm feels foreign and unexpected, Ecclesiastes assures us, "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). King Solomon, a mighty leader who was familiar with pestilence and plagues, wrote these words after stating, "what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Because of King Solomon's words, we know that we face no new kind of trial or storm, but how should we respond during a storm?
Let's look at a few people who faced unique storms in the Bible and how they responded.
The Apostle Peter
The Apostle Peter was a man familiar with storms. After denying Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter became crucified for his testimony of Christ. And later, Peter was called upon to walk out on the water in a storm to meet Jesus. It is here, in the Book of Matthew, that Peter utters one of the shortest prayers in the Bible.
After Jesus tells Peter to leave his boat and come to him on the water, the Bible says Peter "cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matthew 14:30). It is tempting to examine the Apostle Peter's story and ask ourselves, how could a man face-to-face with Jesus become so filled with fear that he needed to cry out in prayer? And while it is necessary to take note of Peter's lack of faith despite his closeness to Jesus, it is valuable to study the way Peter responded in his fear. While Peter stood in the sea, beginning to sink, he did not turn back to his peers and reach to them for help, and he did not drop his head, watching the water rise to his waist. Instead, Peter offered a short prayer, "Lord, save me!" Although Peter's fear was misplaced, his response was correct. Peter understood his only hope was in Jesus, the man who stood before him on the water, bidding him come near. Just as Peter's response to fear was prayer, so should ours be.
The Mighty King David
King David was another man familiar with storms, and his responses during these storms are on display in the Book of Psalms. Throughout the Book of Psalms, King David, who became described as a man after God's heart (Acts 13:33), regularly cries out to God with prayer. "Give ear to my prayer, O God," says David in Psalm 55, "And do not hide yourself from my supplication." And not only does King David regularly cry to God with his prayers, but he also assures us that God is a refuge and worthy to be trusted with our prayers. "Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 62:8). What can we learn from King David? By his example, and through his words, we can understand that in our circumstances, good and bad, we should go to God in prayer, cry out to him, because he is a refuge and to be trusted.
The most valuable example to us in the Bible is the life of Jesus. Throughout the Bible, we become taught that Jesus is God's "only son" (John 3:16) and that Jesus lived a life that was pure and free from sin (1 John 3:5). So how did God's perfect and chosen son respond to storms? The Book of Matthew shows us.
In Chapter 26 of the Book of Matthew, we see Jesus wrestle with the greatest storm anyone has ever had to endure - his sacrifice for our sins. And while wrestling with what he knew was approaching, and all that must occur beforehand, Jesus told his disciples, "'My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me'" (Matthew 26:38). Then a short time later, the Bible says, "He fell facedown and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.'" (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus laid out for us the right way to respond to the storms we face in our lives. Through his example, Jesus shows us that the difficulties we face should become met with prayers to God. And while Jesus is the greatest example in the Bible of how we should conduct our lives, it is valuable to examine the Apostle Peter and King David as well, men who responded to difficult circumstances with prayer, just as Jesus.
So, how are you responding to the storm you are facing, whatever it might be? Are you following the example of God's son and offering prayers to God in the midst of your difficulties? Or are you worrying and panicked, becoming "blown here and there by every wind," as Paul described people in Ephesians who are not rooted in the foundation of Christ.
Today, let's cry out to God. Let's pray to him in our difficulty, just as Jesus and His followers, because we know he hears our prayers (1 John 5:14).
The River Church Staff