I think we all have memories that stand out from the rest of the pack in our minds. These are the special ones that stick with us over the years. One of those for me was when I was a small child, I honestly don’t remember how old I was, but there was a huge storm. It was a hurricane that tore through my hometown and destroyed numerous buildings, homes, and businesses.
I remember that storm so well because it actually moved through our yard and knocked down a tree in the back yard. I couldn’t help but wonder in my mind why the storm chose to destroy so many other homes but left ours intact. As an adult I can see the chance probabilities and the random equations of storm differentials and blah blah blah… But the truth is that the real question we all ask God at least once (if not many times) in our lives is: why?
Let’s face it; we have all had our storms. It may not have been a real thunderstorm, tornado, or hurricane but it may have felt like one. You may have lost a loved one or you may have gone through an injury. Perhaps you lost a job or had your vehicle break down with no money to pay to fix it. I know we have all had our storms. And we wonder why God does not just reach down and fix the mess. Or betters still, if God is a loving god, then why does he let his children go through tough times?
Believe it or not, the Bible tells of many great storms. Jonah was in one so bad that the crew elected to throw him off the boat because he was the cause of it! Or perhaps the one Jesus slept through while the disciples feared for their lives. That was a great one too. But the one I want to focus on today is even more familiar. If you went to Sunday school or many vacation bible schools such as I did you have heard and read this story before. But don’t let the familiarity ruin the lesson we can learn from it.
Go ahead and dust off your Bible and let’s read Matthew chapter 14. I realize that the rest of the chapter does not deal exclusively with this issue but I want you to have context. See, Jesus had just lost a cousin (and a great follower of God) in John the Baptizer. John was beheaded for proclaiming God’s truth to the Judean ruler Herod Antipas. Jesus tried to retreat from the crowds who followed him to be by himself but they found him and he healed their sick and performed one of the miraculous multiplying meals that are recorded of him.
But the part of the story I want to focus on is not mainly on Jesus, but Peter. We all know Peter as the brash but dedicated leader of the Disciples. Peter stuck his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion but he also used his brazenness to create opportunities for great truth. When the Disciples saw Jesus walking on the water they were terrified. But Peter was crazy enough to ask Jesus to let him walk out to him!
I enjoy reading Matthew’s account of the story because he is the only one who mentions Peter walking on the water. What strikes me about the story is that Peter’s ability to open his mouth when others would not speak afforded him this great opportunity. I mean, who wouldn’t want to walk to Jesus across water? But in the storm Peter’s faith faltered. He forgot who Jesus was and focused on the storm. Because of his distraction he fell.
Here is where the real question comes into play. In verse 31 Jesus asks Peter, “Why did you doubt me?” He tells Peter that he had such little faith. I mean, hadn’t Jesus proven himself trustworthy? Wasn’t Jesus’ credibility worth believing that even though there was a storm all around him that Jesus would carry him through it? How in the world could Peter go through a situation like that and take his focus off of God and place it on something temporary?
Perhaps you already see where I am going with this. But the honest truth is that all of our storms are temporary. And all of them can be used to lead us to a deeper faith in Christ Jesus. But we have to learn this great truth that keeps us from using the storm to draw us closer to God.
Our big truth for this week is: God cares more about holiness than happiness.
I know that flies in the face of our culture. Our culture teaches us that we should do whatever it takes for us to be happy. We should have it our way and if we are unhappy there is something wrong. But here is the thing we don’t want to admit: happiness is just an emotion. It is like anger or sadness. They come and they go depending on the day.
Being happy is great, and the Bible tells us tons of times that God cares about his children and wants them to have good things. But we have come to believe that if we are unhappy that we have a problem. We think that when we go through tough times that God is punishing us and that we have lost his love. We question God’s authority and fail to trust in him to take care of us.
The thing I want all of us to focus on today is that life is more than being happy. Life is about us drawing near to the God who created us and created the storm. If he created all that we see isn’t he able to take care of us in the middle of it? Why do we have such little faith to not believe that God is all he has said he is? Let’s not let our temporary storm take our eyes off of God and his faithfulness both past, present, and future.