There are seasons when you feel like you’ve been thrust out into the middle of a raging storm and left open and vulnerable to the raging forces of everything bigger than you. Wherever I turn lately, this seems to be the prevailing sentiment of people I am in conversation with. We, not just me, are facing an onslaught so fierce that we can scarcely catch our balance in the midst of it. We are crying out for help and relief, and none seems to be coming from any visible direction.
It reminds me of the story in Scripture (Matthew 14:22-33) when Jesus sent the disciples on ahead of Him, and into a fierce storm that would last through a long, dark night. Surely He must have known they would face it. Surely He could have prevented it. But He didn’t. He sent them right out into the middle of it…while He slipped away to a quiet place to pray. This may seem neglectful, if you don’t know Jesus. But if you know Him, it becomes a multi-faceted key in the middle of our own storms.
To know that Jesus was praying while His disciples were battling a fierce, God-appointed storm is to know that the Greatest Intercessor Who ever lived does not stand idly by while we endure great sufferings and difficulties. He knows the power and the value of prayer, and commences to appeal to Heaven on our behalf as we ride the waves of adversity. I don’t know about you, but to know that Jesus is praying for me brings me great comfort and confidence!
To know that Jesus prays while we endure the storms He could stop but chooses not to also reveals the weapon He has placed in our hands. While storms rage all around us, we are taught by our Savior to pray. If we follow the example of our Head Intercessor, we will have peace and confidence in the midst of all of our storms, rather than fear and anxiety. It may seem difficult to pray when we are feeling besieged, but that’s why the Word of God reminds us that when we don’t know what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit within us does (Romans 8:26). Did you know that you never have to worry about not knowing how to pray? All you have to do is let the Holy Spirit take over and pray through you, and He will line your prayers right up with Jesus’. That’s a key we can’t afford to let go of, because all of Jesus’ prayers get answered!
Quite possibly, the greatest key that is held out to us in this story of the disciples’ stormy adventure is the reminder of God’s faithfulness to show up at just the right time, and the power of His Word to carry us through anything we face.
When Jesus finally did come to the disciples, it was the fourth watch of the night. This meant that it was between 3 and 6 a.m. They had spent all the day and all the night in a raging storm, and were entering into a new day that was looking like it might be just the same. I can imagine the exhaustion, the panic, the near-surrender kind of feeling they must have had in their hearts at this point. I feel like I’ve been there lately in my own stormy life: tossed and turned and whipped and beaten back and forth and back again.
And yet, Jesus came, at just the right moment. Maybe it didn’t look or feel like the right moment to the disciples, but to Him Who was praying – Him Who was in touch with His Father’s heart and perfect will – it was the hour reserved for His intervention. It was the hour when, most likely, all of their strength and hope and faith had nearly failed. It was probably the hour when they were ready to give themselves over to the crushing weight of their impending deaths. It was, I am certain, the hour when they thought they could endure no longer.
Then came their Savior, walking upon the same waves which were threatening to take them under. The disciples, no doubt wearied to the bone, were so beaten and broken that they thought they were hallucinating, seeing a ghost. This reminds me that I won’t always be able to see clearly through my storms, and thus cannot rely on my own understanding. But I can surely count on the goodness of my Savior to speak, and to bring clarity to my spirit when I need it most.
When the disciples recognized that it was Jesus, they asked Him for one thing: His Word. “Jesus, speak,” they said, “and we will know it is You.” No one speaks as our Lord speaks. There is no voice so comforting, so powerful, so beautiful. And speak Jesus did. I believe the brightest gem of this story is found right here, when Jesus tells Peter to come to Him. Peter no doubt knew that if he got out of that boat and began to attempt to do what no man has ever done – walk on water, on the strength of his own virtue, he would surely die. It took great courage and risk, and faith like he had probably never mustered before, to do as Jesus had said.
But Peter knew one thing for sure: whatever Jesus spoke, that He also empowered. If it was truly Jesus, and if it came from His mouth, Peter could count on the provision to be able to do as He had been told. And so he went, out of the boat and across the waters that had recently roared themselves over him like a threatening grave.
As long as Peter’s eyes were on the One Whose Word was empowering him to walk upon the waters, he remained above the waves. Only when his eyes shifted to the winds which had been against him and still continued to blow, did he begin to sink. And yet, still Jesus answered his cry and lifted him up. As they stepped back into the boat, that nasty wind ceased all its raging threats and calmed right down. Tell me that the storms of our lives don’t know their appointed boundaries!
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I don’t know what your storm looks like right now. Maybe there are fierce winds blowing at you from every direction, threatening to capsize your boat. This much I do know, however: No storm can sink what God has appointed to save. However He saves, and whenever He moves to do so are His business. Our business is to trust and pray, to be still and wait, believing He will indeed come.
One thing is for certain: when any storm arises in the life of a child of God, He has designed for it to bring Him glory. That means that somehow, through your very difficult and sometimes scary circumstances, God intends to reveal Himself both to you and through you. His light is about to break through in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Remember, your breakthrough isn’t always about you moving out of a situation, but about God moving in.
Beloved One, can you rest assured today that He is at work, that He is on duty at the watchtower of prayer, and can you join your prayers with His to see His goodness and glory displayed? Can you get a good look at your storm through Heaven’s lens, and set your heart to endure for as long as you must, believing that He surely will come at the right hour, with a Word you can walk upon – a Word that will carry you?
These are the seasons when our faith is made stronger, when our eyes learn to see Him more clearly. Not because we have figured something out, but because we are positioned to wait for Him and to depend on His unsearchable ways. We are in a holy setup designed to bring Him the maximum amount of glory, and us the deepest amount of satisfaction. We will soon laugh at the triumph we are gaining, while our enemy mourns the loss of his near-victory in our lives.
If only we will be still and wait upon Him. If only we will stand and keep on standing. If only we will worship through our storm, knowing His faithfulness cannot fail.
I will leave you with this for meditation today:
“God, You’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble – more than enough and always available whenever I need you. So we will never fear even if every structure of support were to crumble away. We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea. For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you.
Pause in His presence.
Here He comes! The Commander! The mighty Lord of Angel Armies is on our side. The God of Jacob fights for us!
Pause in His presence.
Everyone look! Come and see the breathtaking wonders of our God. For He brings both ruin and revival. He’s the One Who makes conflicts end throughout the earth, breaking and ruining every weapon of war. Surrender your anxiety!
‘Be silent and stop striving and you will see that I am God. I am God above all the nations, and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.’
Here He stands! The Commander! The mighty Lord of Angel Armies is on our side! The God of Jacob fights for us!”
Psalm 46:1-3;7-11, The Passion Translation
Oh Woman of Breakthrough, declare it until you believe it, even as the wind and the waves are raging all around you. Let your confidence in His faithfulness shine like a beacon in your storm, until He comes for you. Then, set your feet upon those stormy waters and dance the dance of victory with Him!