It goes without saying that these are turbulent times. Times like this can take us by surprise and can be frightening. An unknown virus is spreading around the world taking lives and resulting in dramatic business slow downs and declines in the stock market.
The temptation is to worry, to be anxious and to fear what the future may hold. In times like these, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that God is still on the throne and still in control. These circumstances may have taken us by surprise, but they did not take
God by surprise.
Mark 4 tells the story of when Jesus instructed the disciples to take him across the Sea of Galilee. During their voyage they were struck by a fierce storm. Even though some of them were experienced fishermen and accustomed to being out on the open water,
they were frightened and fearful the storm would swamp the boat. Christ had fallen asleep. In fear they awakened Christ, shouting at him “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown?”
What was Christ’s response? After He calmed the waves, He turned to them saying “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Life can be full of storms. The storms of life often take us by surprise. They can take many forms - from hurricanes, to illnesses, to wars, to economic depressions, to the spread of life threatening viruses.
But how do we respond to these storms? Do we respond as the disciples responded - in fear? Or do we respond in faith trusting that God will see us through? Just as the storm that night on the Sea of Galilee tested the faith of the disciples, the storms of life have a way of testing our faith. Where do we turn? Where do we place our trust?
Is it in our dwindling financial resources, or do we turn to the Lord?
In a similar story in Matthew 14, Christ instructed the disciples to go on ahead of him and again cross the Sea of Galilee. Again their boat was buffeted by wind and waves. They then saw Jesus coming out to them walking on the water. Christ said “Take courage, it is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter called to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you walking on the water.” Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water.
So far so good, but then Peter turned his focus on the wind and the waves, taking his eyes off of Jesus. Immediately, he began to sink and cried out “Lord, save me!” Jesus reached out and took his hand, saying “Oh you of little faith. Why do you doubt?”
What are we focused on in this storm of life? Do we doubt as we see the decline in the value of our savings or investment portfolio, or the decline of inventory on the grocery store shelves?
Just as Peter needed to be reminded, let us be reminded by the old hymn, we must “Turn our eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Isaiah 41: 10 tells us to “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed. I will strengthen you and I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
As tempting as it may be to worry and be afraid, it is critical that we place our faith and dependence upon God and upon Him alone, knowing that He is the source of all that we have and all that we need. In Matthew 6 we are told not to worry, that God knows our needs, but above all else, we are to live righteously, as He has promised to meet all of our needs.
It’s been said that fear often leads to panic, which in turn, can lead to irrational behavior. But Psalm 46: 10 reminds us to “Be still” - to be calm, knowing that God is God. As you pray, take time to just sit and be still, being reminded that God is God, and that He is still in control. Take time to reflect back on the storms of life that He has seen you through in the past.
Of course we should be wise. It’s important that we comply with instructions to wash our hands, to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze and to maintain “social distancing” - being cautious to do our part to not spread the virus - not only for our own sake, but for those around us who may be more vulnerable. But, may our calm in this storm be a testimony to those around us that our faith is in Christ, and in Him alone - keeping our eyes on Him.