Knowing that the storm, which was about to engulf them, was due to Jonah's disobedience, "they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord even more" (Jonah 1:11-16). Jonah's disobedience had resulted in the storm, and when he was thrown overboard, the Lord quietened the waves.
When the apostles woke Jesus up "He woke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still! Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm" (Mark 4:37-39).
In a storm in another part of the Mediterranean, when all others on the ship had given up hope, Paul was able to stand up and announce that he had been told "there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship" (Acts 27:20-22).
There are also metaphorical storms in our daily life. When those planes flew into the towers in Manhattan, many in the United States and Canada felt the impact of the storm. Right now in Pakistan Christians are facing a vicious storm of persecution. There are storms that can hit our place of work, and suddenly all is in confusion. Some of you are facing financial storms, and there seems no hope of paying the bills. There are also medical storms that engulf us and our family. All is going well, and then suddenly cancer or a heart attack hits us or our loved ones. Some of the toughest storms are when a family is being torn apart and is in danger of breaking up by the force of the wind.
But obviously if Jesus, the eternal Son of God, is in control of the wind and the waves for mariners at sea, then he is also in control of the hurricanes that hit our family. He can say, "Peace! Be still!" And suddenly we sense a great calm. It is then easy to row the boat to shore.
This is what Paul wrote about on one such occasion. In the city of Ephesus, where there had been a riot in the Roman theater, Paul was arrested and imprisoned (Acts 19:28-31). All his friends forsook him, and he was thrown into the same theater to face a lion (2 Timothy 1:15, 4:17). Somehow he was delivered from certain death, and he wrote "We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set out hope that he will rescue us again." (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
That brings me back to the Gospel which we read just now. What do we do when a financial, or medical, or family break-up, or persecution, or storm in our place of work has come down upon us? "The boat battered by the waves, was far from land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning Jesus came walking towards them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear" (Matthew 14:24-25). That is the way many of us react to a storm in our life. We cry out desperately, but we know Jesus is dead and gone. He can't do anything in this situation. He is just a ghost in the night.
But as usual Peter is impetuous. "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water" When we are hit by a storm we tend to think there is something bold that we must do. And Jesus said, "Come." Then an amazing thing happened. "Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and beginning to sink, he cried out. 'Lord, save me!' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him" (Matthew 14:28-31).
Notice that Peter, having begun by faith, could have gone on walking on the water by the same power of the Spirit over the wind and the waves that Jesus had. Things went wrong when he turned from looking at Jesus to the huge waves around him. That's when he began to sink. The secret of facing any kind of storm in our life is not to focus on the problems we face but look firmly at the Messiah Son of God who is in complete control.
Mark recorded the story as told by Peter, and wrote "Then he got into
the boat with them and the wind ceased: (Mark 6:51). Matthew was
also there in the boat, and he remembered how "the wind ceased" (Matthew
14:32). What John remembered was that "immediately the boat reached
the land toward which they were going" (John 6:21). That is the
outcome many of us have experienced in the life-storms that we have faced.
Perhaps you are facing a storm this morning, or it may hit you in the coming
week. Just remember that Jesus is in control of the wind and the waves,
and look in his direction.