When in the storm

“And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Matthew 14:26-28

How many time in our lives, when trials hit, we fall on our face and beg God to deliver us from our proverbial storm. This is a natural response. When something hurts, we want to recoil. So often, however, it is in those times what God is doing something greater than our discomfort. As soon as Peter realized the presence of Jesus in the storm, he asked for a miracle. However, this was not the request we would typically make. Peter does not ask God to remove the storm, nor does he request to be removed from the storm. Instead, he asked to walk on the water too. I do not believe this was Peter’s desire for sensationalism, but rather, his overwhelming desire to be with Jesus: the peace in the storm.

Too often, we miss the blessings the God has for us because we are too anxious to get out of or get through the storm. We look at verses like 1 Corinthians 10:13 and think that God is going to provide a way of escape from all troubles. We fail to notice the last tag in the verse, “that ye may be able to bear it.” In the day of temptation, God’s grace will allow you to bear it or to endure it. Just like the three Hebrew boys in Daniel 3. They refused to bow before the idol and thus faced death by fiery furnace. Without knowing how the story ends, most of us would predict God would use some hero in the story to rescue them somehow. Yet, God saw fit to take them all the way to the fire. It was in the fire that they found their “escape, that they may be able to bear it.” Jesus Himself walked with them in fire, to the point that their clothes weren’t even burnt.

In the trials of life, God is desiring to do a work in us and through us. We often quote Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” but we often misapply it. The “good” it is referring to is found in the next verse, “…to be conformed to the image of his Son…” That is the good. God works things in our life to make us like Him! Thats what Hebrews 12 is all about where God details His process of chastisement in our lives. In 1 Peter 1:7 God calls the trials “…more precious than gold…” We may try to think positive and see the “silver lining” in our trials, but how many of us consider them more precious than gold?

When the trials come our way we can fight them, complain about them, get bitter, or embrace them. What we find there is God’s grace in a way that we would otherwise miss. Paul understood this when he wrote, “That I may know him… and the fellowship of his sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10). There is a special fellowship with Christ that comes only through suffering. Paul shared this valuable lesson in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He had a “thorn in the flesh.” Whatever this was, the tone of the text indicates that it was a debilitating infirmity. Something that Paul felt was keeping him from reaching his potential for Christ. Jesus challenges his thinking by informing him that in Paul’s weakness Christ’s strength is made perfect in him. This was such a paradigm shift in Paul’s thinking that he went from begging God to remove the infirmity to glorying in it. Not just tolerating it, but enthusiastically embracing it! As we embrace our trials, by faith, we can embrace God’s grace! Receiving that enabling power to fulfill His divine will in our lives, in His strength. What an awesome thought!

Job 23:10 “…when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” What is the end result? We saw in Romans 8:29 that God desire to make us like His Son. In Hebrews 12, it tells us it produces life (v. 9), holiness (v. 10), the peaceable fruit of righteousness (v. 11), and healing (v. 13). But probably one of the most encouraging aspects is found in 2 Corinthians 1:4 “[God] comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” As we grow in grace through our trials, God equips us to be a help to others in their trials; an extension of God’s grace. This is what Joseph learned in Genesis 50. After his brothers betrayed him, and sold him into slavery leading to a life of hardship, God had elevated him to second in command in Egypt. His brothers came to Egypt for food and Joseph had forgiven them and reunited with them. He gave them land and purposed to take care of them. After their father died, the brothers thought that maybe Joseph was only kind to them for their father’s sake. They sent word to Joseph that their father’s last wish was to forgive the brothers. This bothered Joseph because he was at peace with what took place. He even named his children as testimonies to what God had done in his heart. Genesis 41:51-52 “And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” So when the brothers came came to Joseph with this request, his response was so profound, and I believe telling of what God does with us when we embrace life’s trials by faith. Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Instead of falling prey to bitterness, he recognized God’s purpose in his sufferings. It was a good purpose and it was a purpose that benefited others.

How do you respond to the storms of life? We can either get bitter, or get better. Choose God’s grace by embracing the trial, by faith, and find out why God said it is more precious than gold.

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