It’s difficult to dream in the midst of the storm when hope is shattered and fear has made its way into the human heart. I should know. I have found myself broken, crying tears of despair, and wondering if my Savior would ever show up for me. I knew there was no person who would be able to fix my pain. I was stuck.
If Jesus said He would leave the 99 sheep to rescue the one, surely He will find the sheep who has somehow wandered off into the storm and has gotten entangled in a fence, unable to move. I have felt like that sheep. Afraid. Wet. Cold. Surely, Jesus has not forgotten about me. Surely He has realized that one of His beloved’s has escaped.
During one of the most painful times of my life I truly found myself fantasizing about death. I never would have killed myself, but many days I did hope death would take me. For a chunk of my life I didnt live; I simply existed. I was plagued with daily pain in my head and in my heart. I suffered with daily migraines, which led to pretty deep depression and anxiety.
The couch was my home and an ice pack was my pacifier. I was paralyzed and I had no idea how I was going to get myself out of the mess I was in. I looked to the Heavens, but no one came, at least not right away. Surely Jesus had fallen asleep again in the midst of the storm. Storms don’t seem to worry our great Shepherd much. He is unshaken by natural disasters.
Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping (Matt. 8:24).
I know how the disciples of Jesus felt that day on the lake. I have wondered if Jesus would allow me to die on my “couch boat” or if He would at some point awake from His slumber and save my life.
That evening a lot of demon-afflicted people were brought to him. He relieved the inwardly tormented. He cured the bodily ill. He fulfilled Isaiah’s well-known sermon:
He took our illnesses,
He carried our diseases (Matt. 8:16-17).
“If Jesus can heal those who are inwardly tortured, surely He can heal me,” I thought. But the pain was unbearable and my spirit was broken. I knew Jesus could heal me, but I was not sure He wanted to heal me. Could freedom really be mine? Could I really beleive in the midst of so much chaos and doubt?
Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: “Silence!” The sea became smooth as glass.
The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at his command (Matt. 8:26-27).
Yes, I knew I was a coward. I knew my heart had grown faint, but would Jesus bring calm to my storm anyway? Would He do the impossible for one little lost, sick sheep? Did He really love me enough to leave the 99 who are comfortable for the moment and seek out little ole’ me?
Looking back, I know that my great Shepherd did wake up and searched me out. I would often dream of His rescue. I can picture myself under 500 rocks, unable to move to free myself. I wish He had shown up and demanded that all 500 rocks get off of me at the same time, but that has not been my story.
Instead, Jesus dropped to His knees and began to remove one rock at a time. Once enough rocks were lifted off me and I was able to somewhat function again, Jesus told me to “get up and get well.” I said, “But I can’t Lord, I am still hurting, there are still many rocks on me, I am still somewhat stuck, I can’t do it.” He again said, “Get up and get well; my grace will be sufficient for you.”
Jesus freed me enough to work on freeing myself. He promised He would help me, but He expected me to do the work. This used to frustrate me. If God is a good father, why would He not just miraculously heal and free me once and for all? I now understand that there are reasons God asks us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
I have found that God has one primary lesson for His children to learn and that is unconditional trust in Him. He allows storms to rage all around us because He wants us to be unphased by troubled waters. He wants us to have so much faith in Him that we too learn to sleep through storms. God is always working on our faith because He knows that the stronger our faith is, the more likely we are to obey Him, and the more we obey Him, the more free we become of worldly suffering.
Don’t be troubled my friends, our father is leading us to still waters within our hearts. He is teaching us how to have peace no matter what life throws our way. When He decides He will not transform our situations, He is transforming our hearts and there is great purpose for those who submit to the process, lean into the pain, and conquer fear one baby step at a time.
In the midst of a life-storm, we must remain hopeful for it is hope that gets us through any difficult situation and gives us the motivation to break free from chains that hold us back from our destinies.
Questions To Ponder:
- What are my weaknesses? What do I struggle to obey God with? Could it be that my weaknesses are adding to my storm? What and/or who do I need to let go of so I can free up myself to overcome this storm? What is God asking me to lay down at the cross? What is He asking me to pick up and start doing? (Answering these questions will provide clues to what God is trying to do inside of you so that you have the strength to change what is outside of you).
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