When our two oldest sons, Jordan and Jacob, were little, we lived in an older neighborhood with homes set back away from the street. The yards were green and lush, and lovely, tall oak trees provided shade throughout the area. The neighborhood was built on a gentle slope and so our house’s foundation was higher at the front than at the back. The boys shared a room at the front of the house with a large, high window facing the street.
One night a strong thunderstorm came through, and I remember their window being cracked open and hearing the sounds of wind
whistling through the trees and thunder echoing throughout the house. One of the boys (I won’t say which!) hid under the covers on his bunk, while the other stood at the open window, watching for another bolt of lightning and listening for the ensuing thunder. “Do it again, God!” he shouted.
“Do it again, God” probably wasn’t on the lips of the apostles on the night chronicled in the fourth chapter of Mark. We read of a howling storm that suddenly arose over the Sea of Galilee. The wind was so great that the resultant waves filled and threatened to sink the boat containing Jesus and His apostles. Imagine a windstorm, in the dark of night, with no modern-day motor or electric lights, no power to the ship save oars, with blinding rain obstructing your vision, and the ship listing to and fro. And yet Jesus slept through the storm on a pillow in the back of the boat, while fear grew in His apostles. But when He was awakened, he uttered three words, and the wind stopped, the sea calmed, and His apostles were filled with fear and awe.
“Master, the Tempest is Raging”
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.
Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessèd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.
Storms in life are inevitable. It has been said that at any given point in life, we are all in one of three stages: heading into a storm, in the middle of a storm, or just coming out of a storm. Sometimes storms overlap and we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we feel as if our boat has capsized and we are barely able to hold on to the wreckage by our fingernails. If we are smart, we learn from our past storms and manage to ride out the downpour, knowing that it will eventually pass.
Jesus was no stranger to the storms of life. The gospels tell of stormy times that rocked His ministry. He was continually followed by crowds that pressed close, always wanting His attention, His healing, His answers, His touch, and His time. Pharisees and Scribes criticized and rebuked His every word and action, questioning Him and seeking to “entangle him in his words,” (Matthew 22:15). Even those in His inner circle bickered amongst themselves, wanting to sit in a position of preeminence next to Him (Mark 10:37). He was betrayed by one close to Him, and unjustly accused, taunted and sentenced to a cruel death by men who claimed to love God. Through all these storms, He reacted peacefully and prayerfully. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34). He knew the One who was in control of all creation.
We too are no stranger to storms, no matter our age, our education, or our station in life. Children’s lives are often hurt by the careless and
selfish actions of their parents. Teenagers struggle with insecurities, looking for acceptance and validation. Young adults wrestle with tough decisions about their life’s purpose and the selection of a spouse, or being alone. Newlyweds learn to resolve conflict and juggle responsibilities. Young parents doubt their parenting abilities and work to keep their marriages strong. Families of all kinds deal with financial issues, time management, devastating and unexpected losses, incapacitating illnesses, personality problems, divorce, and dysfunction. Those of us in the middle of our lives face the “empty nest” and aging parents with chronic health impairments. The elderly deal with failing health, heartbreaking disease, and losing beloved spouses. If we aren’t careful, the fear of these storms can take over our life.
And here’s the real struggle: the devil wants to use our storms against us. He wants to drive a wedge between child and parent; between husband and wife. He wants us to be afraid. He wants to be the one to accept and validate our teenagers. He
wants to cause conflict between family members, and create doubt, and tempt us with material things. He’s trying to use illness and disease to discourage us. He wants us to remain so busy that we have no time left for reflection or meditation on the words that God wants us to hear. He wants to separate us from our Heavenly Father. He wants to win. He “was a murderer from the beginning…he is a liar and the father of lies,” (John 8:44).
With God’s help, we will not let the devil win. If we are willing to look, the storms of life will reveal our shortfalls and allow us to make corrections. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your heart” (James 4:7-8). Weathering storms also gives us the ability to later empathize and comfort others who are enduring the same. It enables us to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and to have compassionate hearts full of kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Colossians 3:12). Scripture tells us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). We can be comforted by the knowledge that “he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).
My little boys are now grown men who have both learned to face the storms of life with courage, relying on the knowledge that God will sustain them. They loved when their daddy sang “Master the Tempter” (as they called it) with them before bedtime. I know they still experience trials, as do we all, and trials will continue until the Lord returns. But we trust the “Master of ocean, and earth, and skies” to see us through until we reach that “blest harbor, and rest on that blissful shore.”
By Carla Moore
Carla and her husband, John, live in Dripping Springs, Texas where John is a full-time minister. They have three sons: Jordan, Jacob, and Micah, and discovered the joy of having a daughter when Erin married Jordan! Carla has been a homemaker for 26 years and mom for 23, and has enjoyed a number of part-time jobs while staying home with her boys.
“Master, the Tempest is Raging” – lyrics written by Mary A. Baker in 1874