The Storms that Help us Grow in Faith
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41
For seamen, the danger of storms is a real as the waters upon which they float. While they do all they can to prepare for the storms, preparation does not stop the storms from coming. The challenge is not whether one dies in storms, but in what state they die in the storms: a person of faith or one with no faith?
This truth applies to life in general and specifically in our era of HIV infections. While people do all they can to prevent infections, to know their HIV status and have adequate cover for medical costs and socio-economic support, preparedness does not mean immunity to infection and the effects HIV have on people. The issue is how well we are prepared to go beyond the challenges HIV infection present, and even to face our time of death. Facing death and other losses can test our faith, but also present an opportunity to know God better, to grow in our trust in Him and in the knowledge that dying in Christ is getting into the Presence of Him who stills the storms, Lord of All.
Christ and his disciples took time off and went to sea. As they “relaxed” the storm struck. Most of the disciples were experienced fishermen, who would be expected to tell the signs of a coming storm at sea. Their fears when the storm struck show that they had little options in dealing with the imminent death heralded by the storm. They were driven to a desperate need for Christ, the Lord of All.
The challenges we face ought to drive us to a place we are desperate for Christ. To realise that we can only go through and over the challenges when the Lord of storms speaks into our situation. We face losses of functionality, dreams are shuttered, health is lost, freedoms we used to enjoy vanish as we get bed-ridden in sickness, we face imminent death, we grieve, we are stigmatized, rejected and despised and we are afraid.
But as Paul says, ‘we serve God, whether people honour or despise us” 2 Corinthians 6:8. Like the disciples and Paul do, it’s all well to express our emotions, our grief. As long as we do so calling out to God in Christ. May our grief allow us to see the God of all creation, the God who stills all storms and whose love for us cannot be changed because of a storm.
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” When we have faith in Christ and trust Him to still our storms, we will go through the storms to a better place with Him. We are able to see ourselves in a place where there is no pain, no tears, where God wipes away our tears. As we see the “storms” of life in our generation of HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, may our sorrow lead us to repentance and growth on faith. For “God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation” 2 Corinthians 6:3
To think about: As you face possible losses and grief in life, in what ways do you respond to situations as one who has faith in the God who stills all storms?
Written By: Dr. Leonard T. Makoni, Counsellor, Christian Counselling Centre, Harare and trained Churches, Channel of Hope Facilitator