Navigating the Storms of Life

By Rick Miller, President

2020 has been a year we will never forget.  Global pandemic.  Unemployment.  Bankruptcies.  Social unrest precipitated by racial injustices.  Weddings, funerals and graduations cancelled, postponed or drastically downsized.  Professional sports played without fans.  Working from home.  The proliferation of Zoom conferences.  Isolation and quarantine of the elderly from family and friends.  An election year as negative and divisive as any we have ever experienced.

All the above has occurred in the first seven months of the year.  What else lies before us before 2020 gives way to a new year?  What additional storms will we face?

The reality of life and ministry in the Year of our Lord 2020 is that storms are inevitable and unavoidable.  Rather than spending our time forecasting when the next storm will hit or doing our best to avoid being broadsided by a storm, the teaching and example of Jesus give us a better way to navigate the storms of life.

Jesus tells a parable about wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49).  The point of this parable is to obediently apply the teaching of Jesus to our lives—to put into practice how He taught those who would follow Him to relate to God and others.  The parable Jesus uses relates to the storms of life that we face.  Notice in Matthew’s account, the storm that confronts the wise and foolish builders is described in exactly the same way:

              The rain came down, the streams rose,
              and the winds blew and beat against that house (Mt 7:25).

              The rain came down, the streams rose,
              and the winds blew and beat against that house (Mt 7:25).

The storms of life are unavoidable and inescapable.  They fall upon the wise and the foolish, the just and the unjust, the believer and the nonbeliever.  The difference between the wise and foolish builders in Jesus’ parable is the foundation upon which their respective houses are built—not the absence or presence, or the relative strength of the storm.  The same storm beats against the two houses but the impact is dramatically different.  Of the one, Jesus said “it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (v 25); but of the other He said, “it fell with a great crash”(v 27).

Storms remind us that foundations are critically important.  They also reveal how solid our foundations are, and sometimes uncover cracks in our foundations.  The teaching of Jesus helps us understand that we cannot always avoid the storms of life, but we can navigate any storm that comes our way by having a solid foundation—a life and ministry built upon the bedrock of belief and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus’ teaching about the storms of life is further enhanced by his living example.  In Matthew (8:23-27), Mark (4:35-41), and Luke (8:22-25), we learn about a storm on the Sea of Galilee that threatened the lives of the Twelve as they were navigating their boat to the other side of the lake.  As the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger, Jesus was asleep in the boat.  Fearing they were about to drown, the disciples woke Jesus up.  Luke’s gospel records that:

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.  In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” (8:24-25)

What can we learn from the Twelve about navigating the storms of life?  There’s no safer place in a storm than being in a boat where Jesus is with us.  He is Lord over every storm, and He is worthy of our trust.  We can follow the example of the winds and the water, and simply obey Him.  The storms of life will often show us what or whom we are trusting.  The danger of storms is real, but so is Jesus’ ability to calm the storms of life as we trust Him.  He may not always remove the external storm, but He promises to calm our hearts and fears as we trust in Him.

I invite you to join me in navigating the storms of life by building wisely upon the Rock of our salvation, and remembering the promise of the presence of Jesus that goes with us through every storm to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:29).