DayBreaks for 2/11/14 – Disappointment #7 – The Struggle in the Storm
Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Yesterday, we looked at the story of the storm which was calmed by Jesus after it threatened to sink the boat in which he and his disciples were traveling. In that case, the lives of all aboard were saved. But that is not always the case and the storm sometimes claims lives.
We tend to think that if God really was actively engaged in guiding us that we would not find ourselves in the middle of a storm (especially we Christians think like this, though actually unbelievers are prone to this, too, witness how they are ready to quickly blame God and rail at him when a natural disaster occurs). So, when we are surrounded by the winds and waves and the ship is about to go down (or it has gone down!), we conclude that if God were truly guiding us then the storm would not have come upon us. And there’s our mistake: we think the storm means that God has forsaken us. We think that smooth sailing is no guarantee that we are navigating the right course.
We also think that getting what we want is always a blessing. It can be a curse. Helmut Thielicke contemplated God’s actions of judgment and said that God “by no means judges merely – or better, he hardly ever judges, by smiting the transgressor with a stroke of lightning or some other disaster: on the contrary He judges him by letting him go in silence.”
Disappointment rarely means that God has turned his back on us. If, as we have posited, disappointment comes from not getting what we want or expect, we are in good company when we are disappointed. Abraham died before seeing God’s promises fulfilled. Moses was refused entry into the Promised Land. The prophets were nearly all frustrated in the refusal of the people to heed the word of God. Paul didn’t get the healing he wanted. Jesus didn’t what he wanted in the garden, but it was not wrong of him to ask for what he wanted. The Father refused his request (as He has with many of our own requests), but the refusals are never, ever arbitrary decisions on His part. He notes our tears and stores them in a bottle. He does not dismiss them. And whenever He thwarts our desires, He does so for a very good reason.
But, it can be frustrating. St. Theresa of Avila expressed it well when she said to God, “If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.” Still, in every disappointment, we must allow for and take into account God’s sovereign, all-knowing will.
What can we learn from these things? Simply this: that in our disappointment to receive, we need to remember that hope deferred is not the same thing as hope denied.
The fact that Jesus had charted the course across the lake didn’t make the disciples feel any better about their situation. And ask the disciples asked in Mark’s version, it wasn’t just that Jesus didn’t act, but that they felt he didn’t care. So how should we interpret his lack of action? It wasn’t his absence or an indication that he didn’t care. It was perhaps simply a sign of his great peace. When we talk about the peace of God, we usually think of it in terms of something He gives us. But there’s something that comes before that: God/Jesus can’t give us something that He doesn’t possess Himself. God/Jesus live in absolute, perfect peace. Christ was neither anxious nor afraid in the boat. He was certain of the future. The disciples couldn’t see the future and they interpreted his inaction as a sign of not caring (how like us!), rather than his absolute certainty and knowledge of the future.
Henry Drummond said this: “Christ’s life outwardly was one of the most troubled lives that was ever lived: tempest and tumult, turmoil and tempest, the waves breaking over it all the time. But the inner life was a sea of glass. The great calm was always there.“
It helps me to know that when we are in turmoil and tempest ourselves and we think that God doesn’t seem to care and He’s not joining us in our panic, that it isn’t because He is indifferent or MIA. He just isn’t ruffled because of His perfect peace…and indeed, perfect control of the outcome.
PRAYER: I rejoice in Your perfect peace and its implications for us in our struggles. What a comfort to know that you do care, you do not panic, and that you firmly hold the times and outcomes of our lives (even when lived in the storm) firmly in your hand! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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