Every conversation on faith has to be relooked at in the light of how we addressed ourselves amidst a global shift during Covid. It took a sojourn into the deepest darkness for us to recognize and appreciate the light. A phase when we were clouded with more questions than answers, enquiries that ultimately drew us closer to the heart of God. It takes me back to the disciples caught in the storm asking Jesus the question don’t you care if we drown? In some way or the other didn’t we all ask that question more than once being engulfed with death, destruction and decay? Aren’t those intimidating numbers escalating each day where tomorrow I may become a statistic enough to move you to action dear God? In subtle ways we have probably echoed the words of Jesus from the cross, my God my God why have you forsaken us!
Have we questioned God’s love because of our storm? “Carest thou not that we perish? How can you sleep when I am troubled? You ought to be doing things when I am feeling unsafe.” Sometimes a moving Jesus doesn’t build your faith like a Jesus who is asleep.
We learn some things about obedience and discipline that only the storm can teach us. Let’s face it, it took a few years of loss, re arranging of jobs, lives, churches and relationships to enable us to tune our ears to listen more closely to the voice of God than we did before.
Storms are built into God’s plan for our lives: You will get into a boat with Jesus, you will hit a storm, life will get rough, why are you afraid? Jesus is with you in the boat and will get you to the other side, the problem is storms are noisy, and sometimes it becomes difficult to hear God’s voice. But he can hear you. Jesus will stop to turn even when he is busy attending to other people’s needs, he will always hear our voice.
The storm is not yours to fix, it is yours to survive: One of the areas we get nervous is when we lose control over things, we certainly lost control of the pandemic and things went out of our hands. Not everything is ours to fix, the storm was ours to survive.
Storms don’t always warn you that they are coming: you and I don’t get to pick the storm. No one sits with God and says ok I’ll pick blood cancer, or I’ll choose prostate cancer over HIV. Would you rather lose your memory or lose both your feet? You don’t get to pick what life is going to hand over to you.
Over and over again from the OT to the NT there is a phrase and it came to pass, after many days and it came to pass, what we don’t realise is that every storm that ever hit the planet came to pass. No matter how fierce no matter how many people died they always come, we give them new names label them differently, but it is still a cyclone no matter how many lives are lost, people lose homes are robbed of families, it still came to pass. In hurricane Katrina one of the saddest pictures is of a father holding up his baby up on the dresser with his hands and both died.
Everything that I know about God that matters I learned it not in a concordance, I learned it in a storm. I learned it on the edge of a cliff, wondering if I would live, everything I learned about what life mattered, everything I learned about life I never learned through a promotion or through difficult relationships, but, I learned when life shut the door on me.
David needed his Goliath because Goliath announced to David you have arrived. Goliath is not there to kill you he is there to introduce you, until Goliath comes David is just a shepherd boy, but Goliath put David’s talent on full display he separated David’s talents from every other shepherd boy. Maybe David should have paid Goliath because the king would have paid David no attention if it weren’t for the Goliath he fought. The only reason for this storm was for Jesus to cross the shores and bring the gospel to the gentiles; the greater the storm the greater the assignment if God trusts you with that level of trouble you’ve got to be somebody.
We are living in uncertain times If we are all going to be destroyed by a virus or by a war or an attack, let that destruction when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reaching out to those in need, not found wanting, not found lacking or lazing or giving directions but doing.
We often quote the 23rd Psalm of walking through the valley of the shadow of death and fearing no evil, there is a background to it. In the holy land in the valleys of the shadows of death were Lions and Bears that knew the pattern of the sheep, they would thus hide in the shadows because every time they knew they would use the same route and come the same way, no wonder David said in 1 Samuel 17, I have taken my father’s sheep out of the jaws of the Lion and the Bears so what he would do was leave the sheep behind and go into the shadows looking for the Lions and Bears to kill them before the sheep arrived preparing the way, so after he kills all of the Lions and Bears then he would go up the mountain and clear the area. God’s love for us is so deep that he removes that which will destroy us out of the way; certain things in life, if it wasn’t for God I would have been gone.
In his book Doubting, Alister McGrath, goes on to present a powerful illustration. He reminds us that if we desire to see the stars or catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, we cannot do it in broad daylight. We have to wait until it is dark. The stars are still there during the day; we just can’t see them. Our eyes aren’t discerning enough to pick up their light during the day. The stars don’t need darkness to exist—but we need the darkness if we are to see them and convince ourselves that they are still there!
My faith today is relevant only when it makes sense to the changing times, if I am able to comprehend that am never promised in God’s word that God will still the storms around me, but God will certainly still me. It is only through the darkness I will be better able to comprehend the light.
It is said that during the American civil war, eight soldiers met in a tent to pray. They were all worried about their lives that they decided to send a message of comfort to their families in case they died. They all copied the final stanza of the hymn which each one signed. The next morning seven of the soldiers were killed. The hymn was:
My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
While life’s dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread…
Be Thou my Guide;
Blest Saviour, with Thy love,
Fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above
A ransomed soul.
Rev. D. Anand Peacock
Pastor, Circular Road Baptist Chapel, Kolkata
Committee member – Calcutta Auxiliary