Swept out to sea by an unimaginable tower of thick, black water. Struggling for breath. Bombarded by debris. Deafened by the weight of the water submerging me.
When I finally hit the surface I was moving at a relentless speed. Unable to control my direction or my destination. Nothing, absolutely nothing under my control.
Finally at rest, barely conscious. The fate of my family unknown. My surroundings devastated as I clung to a tree injured, in pain, and unsure if I had the strength or the will to survive.
As an Emergency Manager I have a strange affinity for disaster flicks. I recently saw “The Impossible,” the true story of a family who survived the 2004 Tsunami. If you’ve seen it perhaps you felt like I did as you watched it… completely transported to Thailand on that fateful day in late December.
I would never compare my “storms of life” with what those who survived the tsunami went through. But I think we can use their story as an analogy. I think we can all relate to times when we have felt completely rocked and devastated by our circumstances, alone and struggling, out of control, our future unknown. Wondering where is God in all of this. Why me? And, what is going to happen next?
It was just a few days after seeing the movie that I was reading about another storm. It was a storm that took place long ago on the Sea of Galilee. It was the time that Jesus sent his disciples across the Sea without him. He sat on the mountaintop praying, while below Him they struggled for hours against a raging storm. What I never realized about that story before was that the storm was no surprise to Jesus. He knew what they were going into. And, if you look at the Greek, it says He “forced” them to cross the Sea ahead of Him. (The story is from Matthew 14:22-36.)
When I thought again about the stormy times in my own life, I had to admit, Jesus was never surprised by them either. In some cases, just as He did with His disciples, I’m sure He forced me into them too. I was meant to wrestle against the wind and the waves seemingly alone, waiting and waiting for Him to come out to rescue me.
Why? Why did he do that to His disciples, His closest friends. Why would He do that to me? Why would He allow something so devastating to occur to thousands of people in Indonesia or anywhere in the world?
I’m not sure I can answer that definitively, but I think at least part of that answer can be found both in the movie and in the story of the disciples battling the storm on the Sea of Galilee. In fact, it’s the best part of each of those stories. It is watching God do the impossible. In the movie, through the intricate timing of numerous circumstances a family is miraculously reunited amidst utter chaos; their love for each other rooted more deeply than ever before; and the really important issues in life put into proper perspective. Impossible…made possible. In the story of the disciples, after hours and hours of arduous rowing, losing the battle against the storm, the disciples are startled by Jesus coming to them by WALKING ON WATER! And as if that wasn’t enough, Peter gets to try it himself! Impossible… made possible!
In every one of those times that I’ve felt that my circumstances were impossible, that all hope was lost, that I was alone, suddenly… there was Possible. Now, it was never immediate and it was not usually through any spectacular feats of supernatural power. But getting me through difficult and devastating times and putting my feet back on solid ground is no less miraculous to me than walking on water.
So is my point that God causes horrible events to happen in the world and in our lives just to draw attention to Himself? Just to show off His supernatural powers? No. But the storms of life, however we experience them, are all under his control. He commands the wind and the waves. They are no surprise to Him. And He alone is sovereign. His desire in them is not to draw attention to Himself. (He’s God, He doesn’t need human attention to feed His ego!) His desire is to draw you and I into His miraculous love; to root us deeply in it; and to change our perspective to the eternal rather than the circumstantial. And not even death will stop Him in His pursuit of us.
The God of the universe was willing to allow His very own Son to be put to death, not for the attention of the world, but for a relationship with each and every human being inhabiting that world! An individual, personal relationship between you and the God of the universe, forever, was bought with the price of his own Son’s life. Impossible…made possible.
He is a God who goes to great lengths to pursue us with His love. If you’re in a storm and want to see the impossible made possible, ask Him for help. Ask Him to come along side you. Ask Him for that relationship that He was willing to die for. He loves you. He wants to be your shelter in the storm.