by Julie Zine Coleman
I once asked my husband Steve what he did when struggling with doubts about God. “I look back to the many times in our lives when He intervened,” Steve told me. “And I know that He is faithful because I have experienced Him firsthand.”
We experienced that kind of intervention early in our marriage. Steve, baby Adam, and I were struggling to keep financially afloat. Steve was a full-time grad student. I had just finished six weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Our financial status was grim. One day I got a surprise call from my Aunt Fay, who would be in town for a conference. Could she come and stay with us? I was thrilled.
I made a grocery list for her visit. Then I looked in my wallet. There was just enough to buy eggs, bread, and milk. But we also needed formula for the baby: what we had would be gone by early the next evening. Steve and I prayed together that God would provide for our family. I went out and bought the milk and eggs.
Trusting God can be a challenge. Jesus’ disciples struggled with it, too.
One night, the disciples found themselves in a fight for their lives. Wind had surged without warning down the narrow gorge from the north and whipped the sea’s waters into a frenzy.
Some of the disciples knew how to handle a boat. But even the most experienced of the fishermen had begun to panic. The wind would not let up. The boat was filling with water, faster than they could bail. It looked like they were about to lose the battle.
So what did they do? They woke up Jesus, who was sleeping peacefully through the calamity in the bow of the boat. “Jesus! Don’t you care that we are about to go down with the ship?”
In stark contrast to their panic, Jesus calmly sat up. “Be still,” He commanded the storm, with the authority He knew was His. Immediately the wind stopped. The waves became calm water. Nature itself had obeyed the voice of the Lord.
The disciples sat in awed silence. Who was this guy? Even the wind and waves obeyed Him! They might have been scared in the storm. But now they were absolutely terrified.
The disciples already knew a lot about Jesus. They had seen Him heal the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. Yet witnessing the power He had over nature that stormy night gave them a whole new level of understanding. Maybe they knew in theory that Jesus could do such a thing. But it wasn’t until the storm that the possibility became an earth-shaking reality for them.
Scripture contains everything we need to know about God. Most of us could write pages about Him from what we have studied and read. Yet much of what we “know” is really just theory, at least to us. Until we experience His sustaining power and faithfulness firsthand, we cannot truly know God. The storms in our lives serve that purpose.
Theory becomes reality in the storm.
What Jesus had shown the disciples that night was information they would need. Someday they would be carrying forward God’s message of salvation. No longer would they have the comfort of His reassuring presence. But when things got tough, they could look back to that stormy night and be reassured that Jesus truly was the Son of God. What they witnessed first-hand would serve to anchor them in confident trust.
We had a wonderful time with Aunt Fay. The next morning after breakfast, we said our goodbyes. When Steve and I arrived home that afternoon, we found a note folded over a twenty-dollar bill waiting for us. In all the entertaining we did those first few years, not once did someone leave money for us. But that morning, when we were secretly in desperate need, the Lord moved Aunt Fay to leave that twenty dollars. The formula crisis was solved. And we understood better than we ever had before about the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God.
As we face the storms in our lives, we can know that God will be faithful to not only meet our need, but reveal Himself in the storm to us in a new way. It will not be easy. But what we come away with will serve us well for the rest of our days.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5 NIV
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
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