The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 189)
When the Storm Comes
The songwriter asks:
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
[“We Have An Anchor” by Priscilla J. Owens]
How would you answer this question? It is a certainty that we will all face storms in life. These storms often take on different forms. There are physical storms, marital storms, emotional storms, financial storms, as well as many others.
But the question still remains: Will we survive or be devastated by the storm? Many are smashed on the rocks of life but believers don’t have to be. One reason why many wreck on life’s rocks is their reaction to the storm is much like the Israelite’s reaction – become angry at God, murmur, and complain. They didn’t trust their anchor.
When we react as they did it is because we don’t think our anchor will hold. Nothing could be farther from the truth for our anchor never slips. Paul discovered this in Acts 27:14 – 44. In this passage Paul is our example of what we should do when the storm comes.
We must spend time alone with God
It should be obvious to anyone reading this that our anchor is the Lord. Another songwriter expressed it this way: I‘ve anchored my soul in the “Haven of Rest”… the “Haven of Rest” is my Lord [“The Haven of Rest” by Henry L. Gilmour].
Since the Lord Jesus is the only safe anchor in a storm, our only safe course is to spend much time with Him during a storm. Paul lived in the presence of the God to whom he belonged (v. 23), so in the time of storm, he received strength and faith for the challenge ahead (sounds like Isaiah 40:31 doesn’t it?).
Spending time alone with God didn’t end the storm for Paul, because he still had much to go through, but it did give him the strength for what lay ahead. Paul took the strength he received and used it to encourage others (vv. 21-25). We can do likewise if we spend time alone with the Lord. This brings us to an important point: Have we developed a pattern of living which will help us meet life’s storms?
Most of us wait until the storm comes and then we resort to emergency praying — “Lord, I need help quick!” But it doesn’t work that way. If we are unwilling to trust and spend time alone with God in the normal circumstances of life, how do we think a storm will change things?
The Lord is not a cosmic break-glass-in-case-of-storm protective device. Daniel gives us a classic example of how we ought to live. When the storm of persecution blew into Daniel’s life he didn’t have to utter emergency prayers. It is said he prayed three times a day as it was his custom since the early days (Dan. 6:10 NKJV). Daniel didn’t change his pattern of living when the storm came. Neither should we.
We must reckon upon His presence
Not only did Paul spend time with the Lord but the Lord also spent time with Paul (v. 23). Most of us think the Lord leaves us in times of storm but nothing could be more wrong. The Lord promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). David Livingstone, the African explorer and missionary, acted upon this truth as he blazed new trails through that vast continent. He often said, “This is the word of a ‘Gentleman’ of the highest and most sacred honour.” How could anyone doubt the word of such a “Gentleman”?
We must believe His promises
There are two certainties for the believer in a storm: The Lord’s presence and the Lord’s promises. Paul gives us a tremendous example of faith when he says, “I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (v. 25). The Lord gave Paul a promised deliverance and Paul acted upon the promise even though the circumstances were still difficult.
We also have a promised deliverance from our storms if we are willing to completely trust the Lord. The Lord’s deliverance is not always what we would consider deliverance but it can empower us in the midst of the storm. Paul’s “deliverance” from his thorn in the flesh was more grace. So while the difficulty still existed, Paul had a promised sufficiency to help him through it.
Even if the Lord delivers us in a way more in keeping with our ideas of deliverance, it may not be an immediate resolution of the problem. Paul was not brought to safe ground right away but he trusted the Lord and knew God would keep His word.
Adoniram Judson, a missionary to Burma, was in a difficult situation, imprisoned in a Burmese jail. During his imprisonment he was asked, “What do you think now of your plans to win the heathen for Christ?” Judson replied, “The future is as bright as the Promises of God.”
We must be thankful
One of the most difficult lessons to learn in storm time is to be thankful. For many of us our first reaction is to complain, “Why me?” Paul didn’t complain even though he was still in a dangerous situation. In verse 35, we see Paul giving thanks for the food they were about to eat. Paul practised what he preached because in Ephesians 5:20 he tells us to give thanks always for all things.
The word thankfulness comes from the word thinkfulness and if we think about our storm we can find something to be thankful about. May we be like the man confined to a wheelchair; when asked to name his favourite hymn he responded, “Count Your Many Blessings.”
We must get rid of excess baggage
The final thing we need to do in a storm is to “lighten the ship” (v. 38). The storm we face may not be due to some sin in our lives, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure our “sky is clear.” It is better to say, “Lord, is it I” than to have the Lord say, “Thou art the man.”
If we follow Paul’s example, we will be able to answer the songwriter Michael H. Campbell’s opening question by triumphantly singing:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll.
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
A little child is awakened by a storm and cries out with fear. His father comes and takes him in his arms. Soon the child is asleep again. The fear-inspiring storm has not ceased but the child’s confidence in his father’s love for him has cast out fear. There is only one sure way to cast out fear and that is a full confiding trust in the love of God. You cannot leave God out of your life and have freedom from fear.
|Anxiety and worry are only different forms of fear. Anxiety is anticipated fear. Any anticipated threat to what we value or esteem to have an important bearing upon our well-being, comfort or happiness will produce anxiety. Worry is a brooding over these anxious fears.These triplets – fear, anxiety and worry – sap our energies and undermine our peace and tranquillity of mind. They are like weeds that grow and crowd out the pleasant flowers in our garden of happiness.Only the Bible traces these fears to their real source and alone gives us an effectual remedy: “Perfect love (God’s perfect love for us) casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Nothing will cast out fear like confidence in God’s perfect love towards us.||
From Grace & Truth Magazine
– Danville, IL, USA. Used by permission.
Credits to: Fishers Magazine