Some years ago, while my extended family was visiting with some relatives who lived near the Atlantic Ocean in the Southeast U.S., I had the chance to go deep-sea fishing. As I recall, we caught a few fish – from a much different variety than we could catch in northern lakes – and had a good time.
While we were out, though, a storm came up over the ocean, and the captain needed to return to shore. When it became clear that the weather was getting serious (before the days of getting live weather maps on one’s smartphone), he headed towards land and pushed the throttle up to high speed. The boat wasn’t a big one, so there weren’t seats for everyone. As a result, I found myself standing on the starboard side, holding on to a metal support as the boat bounced along the waves. Although I’m sure that the captain had the required number of life preservers on board, I don’t think that I was wearing one (despite not being a very good swimmer), so I was hanging on for my life.
Obviously, I made it home, and – as expected – so did all of the other passengers. The captain was capable, and the boat was sturdy. Still, I gained an appreciation for the ocean, storms, and powers much greater than myself.
In the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry recorded in the Bible, there are at least two situations where His disciples were caught in a storm. I suspect that these were storms much greater than the squall I rode through, since some of the disciples were seasoned men of the sea and even they were alarmed. In both cases, Jesus got them safely through the tumult, like in this example, here:
But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”
Luke 8:23-25 NASB
(See also Matthew 14:22-33.)
In the same way, I find myself in life’s storms. The challenges may relate to health issues, relationships with others, financial constraints, temptations, or all of the above. I admit, sometimes, I’m just hanging on as the boat is plowing through the waves, and the rain is pouring down. My body and my mind are getting tired of the effort, and the shore seems a long way away. A hot shower and a dry change of clothes seems like just a dream.
I think that sometimes our job is to just hang on and not let go. When we understand what is good and what is evil, we must stick to the good. We may grow weary when doing the right thing is difficult, or when it is not popular, but good is still worth holding onto.
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB
God doesn’t promise His disciples an easy life, nor that the ship won’t sink (see Acts 27:39-44). But, He does promise that He is with us, and sometimes He reaches out to bend the rules of nature or probability, in order to knit them into an unlikely outcome. He has given us direction and guidance to show us the right path, and our role is to remain faithfully in His will.
So, if you feel like you’re just holding on through the storm, let me encourage you to keep it up. Don’t compromise God’s standards just to get temporary relief, nor give up and surrender your choices to evil. Remember Who is holding onto you:
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
Psalms 37:24 NASB