Why Do Storms Come Upon Us?
Matthew does a great job contrasting the
"little faith" of the disciples with the "great faith" of those coming
to Jesus to be healed. The disciples witnessed the many miracles
of Jesus. The leper’s healing. The healing of the centurion’s servant.
Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever was driven out. The casting out of
numerous demons. They had no trouble believing in Jesus as he went about
performing miracles for others. However, they were personally challenged
when called upon to apply their faith to their personal lives. This is
always the challenge of biblical faith.
23 Then he got
into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Without warning, a
furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the
boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him,
saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
26 He replied,
"You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked
the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men
were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the
waves obey him!" NIV
Mark’s gospel account says Jesus “. . .
rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’” However,
before Jesus rebuked the winds, he rebuked the disciples’ lack of faith.
How does faith work in a personal
crisis? The disciples were engaged in the work of spreading the
gospel, but their personal faith failed the crisis test. The storm came
upon Jonah because of his disobedience. This storm came upon the
disciples because of their obedience. It is amazing Jonah’s storm came
because he believed God was too caring. God wanted the wicked Ninevites
saved—Jonah didn’t. The disciples’ storm came to prove to them God
Why Do Storms Come Upon Us?
There is no way I can explain the
specific reasons behind all the storms you have experienced, or are
experiencing. Only God holds the answers to your questions about
them. However, we can learn from the storm Jonah faced, and the storm
the disciples faced. God tells us the purpose behind their storms.
Understanding the purpose behind their storms will help us find a
purpose in our personal storms.
God created the storms to activate their
personal faith. Jonah’s storm came because he was running away
from God. The disciples’ storm came because they were trying to follow
God with too little faith in God. In each case the storm came to
activate personal faith. God told Jonah to go preach salvation to
Nineveh, but Jonah didn’t think they deserved salvation so he caught a
ship to Tarshish.
Jonah caught a ship to Tarshish to get away
from God’s purpose for him.
But Jonah had
gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The
captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on
your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish."
7 Then the
sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is
responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on
8 So they
asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for
us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From
what people are you?"
9 He answered,
"I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the
sea and the land."
terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was
running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)
11 The sea was
getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to
you to make the sea calm down for us?"
12 "Pick me up
and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know
that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."
the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the
sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried to the LORD, "O
LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold
us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done
as you pleased." 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and
the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD,
and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
17 But the
LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the
fish three days and three nights. NIV
Storms challenge our complacency.
Jonah was like many of us, asleep and needed to wake up. There are others
who are like the disciples in the storm, they think God is asleep.
Usually, when either happens, God calls for a storm. Storms are
humbling. Humility seeks direction. Pride seeks its own direction.
Storms have a way of pointing us to our greatest need.
Storms come to internalize our faith by
renewing our sense of purpose and direction. There was a
horrific tornado in Oklahoma a few years ago. The warning sounded.
Residents dove into their underground shelters. When they came up after
the storm nothing was left. Many of those individuals were asked the
question: “How has this storm changed you life?” Almost without
exception, each of them responded with a similar basic answer: “I have
learned what is really important in life!” Storms are designed to take
away the clutter. Storms are designed to give us a new direction.
The Disciples Storm
The disciples’ storm came to persuade
them of their need for a deeper faith. For the new believer this
is the most difficult task—trusting God. Developing a subjective faith
is more difficult than objective faith. The disciples had an objective
faith. They had observed Jesus’ authority and power—the empirical
evidence persuaded them to believe. Initially believing what God has
done and has said is easier than believing in what he will personally do
Developing a subjective
faith—internalizing faith is more difficult. Depending upon God
in the midst of the crisis calls us to internalize our faith.
Over the years I have seen so many
baptized believers turn away from the Lord shortly after baptism.
This is always disturbing. I have seen children turn away when a crisis
hits in their teenage years. Why does it happen? Initially, when you
teach these individuals the truth, they accept it enthusiastically, but
their enthusiasm is often short lived as they begin to face the stormy
reality of living by faith in a non-believing world.
I have discovered people will usually
give mental and verbal assent to the truth taught. But the
challenge is leading them to discover how God’s truth affects their
daily lives. This application of the truth is what I call a subjective
faith—it is where faith is internalized. Subjective faith develops as a
person embraces the truth for their personal life.
Jesus led his disciples through many
situations that challenged them to internalize their faith.
14 When they
came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15
"Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering
greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought
him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."
unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I
stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to
me." 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was
healed from that moment.
19 Then the
disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it
20 He replied,
"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have
faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move
from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for
Mustard seed faith is important when we
go through loss of jobs, economic slumps, relationship problems as
families grow and our personal battles with Satan. In times like
these, we may think God doesn’t care. We may decide to go hide in the
boat ignoring God’s call to internalize our faith until the storm is
At one point in Jesus’ ministry many of
his disciples began turning their backs on Jesus—they no longer followed
him. Jesus turned to the inner core of disciples, those twelve
he had hand picked to follow him, and said, “You do not want to leave
too, do you?” (John 6:66-67). Notice Peter’s answer:
answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal
life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (NIV).
This was another storm in the disciples’
lives; everyone is turning away from Christ. It’s a different
type of storm—but it is a storm. Jesus asks them “You do not want to
leave too, do you? What a soul search question in a heart rending storm.
However, we begin to see the disciples’ subjective faith develop—we have
no other one to turn to.
The verses preceding what I have told you thus
far reveal what tested their faith to the point were some wanted to
leave and others decided they had no where else to go.
53 Jesus said
to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of
Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my
flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at
the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in
him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the
Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is
the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and
died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59 He said this
while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing
it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept
61 Aware that
his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this
offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was
before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The
words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there
are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the
beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He
went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me
unless the Father has enabled him."
66 From this
time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 "You do not
want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter
answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal
life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." NIV
Those following Jesus had a clear picture of
what Jesus was talking about. Jesus had just finished feeding thousands
with a five barley loaves and to small fish. Moses had fed their fathers
They would have to become committed and dedicated to Christ.
The ancient world was accustomed to eating
meat, and often, drinking the blood of animal sacrifices offered to
their god or gods as a sign of their commitment and dedication to those
gods. However, eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood was repulsive
to them. However, it really isn’t that bazaar to us. We symbolize this
through the Lord’s Supper each week. The point is that those following
Jesus needed to feed upon Jesus and digest him for themselves.
I hear an interesting advertisement on
the radio on the way to the office almost every day. It goes
like this: “Lord please give me a Mercedes Benz, I am receiving no help
from my friends.” The commercial goes on to say something like this: You
certainly can’t get a Mercedes Benz through praying, or from your
friends. Those of us here at Mercedes Benz realize a Mercedes Benz only
comes from hard work, commitment and dedication. We don’t give Mercedes
Benzes away. They are expensive, but the quality is well worth the
commitment and dedication it takes to own a Mercedes Benz. We offer a
quality product along with quality service, and these things certainly
aren’t cheap. These things only come through the dedication and
commitment it takes to own a Mercedes Benz.
I may not have the dedication and commitment
to own a Mercedes Benz. But my life is just as committed to whatever it
is I am pursuing, for I am spending my life on earth for it.
Believing through storms of life require
commitment and dedication. Yet, what Jesus wants to give us
can’t be had with commitment and dedication alone. It requires a faith
of commitment and dedication dependent upon the work of God.
God must enable you to come to him. Jesus says you can’t come to him
unless “the Father has enabled you.” God may not give you a Mercedes
Benz, but he will give you all the help you need to get to heaven.
When those disciples were leaving Jesus, Jesus turned to his inner
core of disciples and said, "This is why I told you that no one can come
to me unless the Father has enabled him."
When the lots in the storms of life
point to you, where do you turn? Do you turn to Jesus, or do you
jump overboard. Do you seek to deepen your faith in God, or do you run
from God? It’s a humbling experience to turn to God and say, “God I am
not sure about how much you care about me, but I need some relief—save
When the storms blow into family relationships
do you turn to Christ, or do you turn on the television to escape. Do
you let today’s television message convince you dysfunctional families
Only God’s Spirit can help us
internalize faith. Jesus says, “The Spirit gives life; the
flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and
they are life.” Commitment and dedication of many following
Jesus was only a fleshly response—they were drawn to him by the loaves
and fishes as they stood in awe of his miraculous works. When they were
called upon to accept Jesus Christ as the bread of life—to eat his flesh
and drink his blood, their fleshly commitment and dedication came to a
A father brought his demon possessed son
to Jesus inquiring if Jesus could cast the demon out. The father
pleaded with Jesus requesting Jesus to have pity on them and cast out
the demon if he could. Jesus said, “’Everything is possible for him who
believes.’ Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, ‘I do
believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:23-24 NIV).
It’s nice to hear God’s voice say, “You
of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Thank God for little
faith. Little faith brings us back to the One who enables. Little faith
removes mountains. Little faith finds peace in the midst of the storm.
Little faith keeps us following Christ. Little faith keeps us from being
swallowed by a whale or something much worse. Little faith says,
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We
believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
Jonah represents so many in the church
today. They clearly understand God’s call, but they are asleep
in the boat. The church of our Lord is facing a great storm today—it has
been sent by God—religious division is worse now than it has ever been.
There are new churches popping up in almost every strip mall. The storm
is devastating the faith of many believers. The lots being cast are
pointing to us—but many are jumping ship. They are being swallowed up by
something far worse. However, God’s storm is calling us to deepen our
faith in Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life, and no man
can come to the Father except through him.
The disciples didn’t have a clear
picture of what was beyond their storm. A hesitant faith was
understandable. Jonah had a clear picture of God’s mission ahead. He
knew why the storm came. What if Jonah had said, “God I accept your
mission, just get this boat back to shore!!” What would have happened?
Instead, Jonah says, “Throw me overboard it’s your only hope!!!”
The choice is yours today. Will you cry, “Lord
help my unbelief,” or will you cry “Throw me overboard?” Will you
continue to seek Jesus?