The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. We know this.
The most direct route? The fastest way of accomplishing tasks? We like this.
Efficiency and speed make us happy. But life moments aren't always conducive to efficiency and speed and they rarely make us feel like we're going in a straight line.
We often use more accurate ways to describe how we see life.
A roller coaster? Sometimes.
Hill and valleys? Often.
Mountainous terrain? Occasionally.
A journey? Definitely.
But it's rarely a straight line—or a bed of roses.
Sometimes the course of life events can seem strange. One minute, things are normal—you're focused, meeting your goals, accomplishing tasks, even serving the Lord. The next thing you know, the unexpected completely interrupts your somewhat routine life.
We start the day with a couple challenges on our minds and end it with the unthinkable dominating our thoughts.
It's no wonder the Lord wisely encouraged us not to worry about tomorrow: "Therefore, take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself" (Matt. 6:34).
He was well-aware of the world we would live in during our time on earth and what we would encounter and face in our daily lives. Culture, war, famine, disease—the Lord saw it all and yet still encouraged us to live our lives free from fear. It would seem impossible, except for the fact that this is the God who tells us "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Our all-knowing, all-powerful God lets us know that, yes, things are going to be challenging, but we can actually have peace during those times because of what He's done—He's overcome.
What He doesn't tell us is to live life with the expectation that all will be perfect and free from chaos.
Life was great—once. And then Adam and Eve were disobedient.
Thankfully God has a plan to make all things new again when His Son returns to rule as King on the earth.
But until then, there are real storms in life.
Sickness, bankruptcy, incurable diseases, untimely death, injustice, prejudice, unbelievable acts of random violence . . .
Instead of entering His gates with thanksgiving, we're ready to storm them with our list of all the things that need to be fixed, acting as if our great God has somehow overlooked the details of our lives.
Many times we can find ourselves like the disciples on the Lake of Galilee.
One day He went into a boat with His disciples, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. As they sailed, He fell asleep. Then a wind storm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger.
They came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!"
Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, "Where is your faith?"
Being afraid, they marveled, saying to each other, "Who then is this Man? He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him."
They sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is across from Galilee (Luke 8:22-26).
In the midst of all that is happening, we forget what the Lord said we were going to accomplish together. We question His goodness and care. We panic and become fearful.
But we don't have to be fearful, anxious or even worried by what we see, experience or encounter. Regardless of the height of the waves, God is actually greater. Despite the ferocity of the winds, He has all power. And He makes Himself available to us.
And although we can feel the reality of our lack of control, there are steps we can take to stay calm and maintain our peace in the midst of the storm.
1. Remember Not to Worry
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Is. 41:10).
In our day, the temptation to worry can be great. And as good Christians, we sometimes refuse to worry, opting instead to delve into that all-too-familiar place of simply being "concerned." When we read Jesus' words not to worry or to "fear not," there are times we take them as an unreasonable request. However, this is a command the Lord gives to us so that we engage His power to live it out.
We don't refuse worry based on our feelings, but instead we choose to take hold of the truth: We have unhindered access to the Prince of Peace, even in the most challenging situations. He is our hope and our deliverer, the one who is victorious and undefeated and humbly calls Himself our Helper.
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over" (Ps. 23:5).
2. Remember Who Speaks to the Storm and Call on Him
"I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Ps. 34:4).
Even when things feel uncontrollable, there is Someone who actually has all power and authority to change situations and circumstances. When we feel helpless, He remains stable, steadfast and faithful. When we feel we're out of options, He holds all creative power.
And when our God speaks, things happen.
He easily commands the wind and the waves He created and they immediately comply, without hesitation.
So let us take comfort in the fact that what God says will happen will actually come to pass. When He speaks to you about where He is taking you, you can rest assured that you will arrive in that place, regardless of how things look. And when you do, you will marvel at His ability and power.
Some went down to the sea in ships, to do business in the vast waters; they saw the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep water. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the sea waves ... Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distress. He made the storm calm, and the sea waves were still (Ps. 107:23-29).
3. Remember the Storm Is Temporary
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye on you" (Ps. 32:8).
As painful and caustic as life's circumstances can be, we're often exhorted to look up to the One who is able and willing to help us in our time of need. It's only when we look to Jesus that the troubles of life can even be seen as "light and momentary affliction" that will pale in comparison to what He has awaiting us.
We have a Good Shepherd who guides us through each and every challenge in the way that is best for us, tailoring His guidance to best lead us. And regardless of the strength of the storm, we can look to the One who is stronger and know the destination He has set before us is victory.
You shall seek them and shall not find them, even those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a thing of nonexistence. For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, "Do not fear; I will help you" (Is. 41:12-13).
Throughout life, as storms arise, agitation and the temptation to worry may call our names. But in those moments, as the winds pick up and the waves become choppy, we can choose peace.
Without denying what's happening, we can rest assured that the One who dwells within is greater. Because during our most unexpected and challenging moments, He is sovereign and Lord over the storm.
The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea (Ps. 93:4).
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