Mark 4:35-37 NIV
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
The disciples are obeying Jesus and crossing to the other side of a lake when we read:
“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” (v. 37)
Other bible translations say:
•A fierce storm
•A great windstorm
•A fierce gale
•A violent gust
What they are trying to communicate is that it was a storm with hurricane force which could destroy anything which stood in its way.
It’s important to note: Being with Jesus does not excuse you from the storm. I’ve been a Christian for 26 years and following Jesus gives me abundant life, purpose, meaning, joy – there’s no other way I’d ever want to live. But in 26 years I’ve also learned this: Being a Christian doesn’t excuse you from pain, suffering, loneliness, heartache, sickness and bereavement. It doesn’t give you a ‘Get out of pain free card’. Being with Jesus doesn’t mean you don’t face the storm. It doesn’t excuse you from the wind, the waves, the darkness, the rain. In fact, it was following Jesus command to cross over to the other side that led them into the storm. They were simply obeying Jesus and that’s what brought them into the storm.
The key question to ask is: what is the storm doing in my life?
In this story we’re looking at the storm was preventing the disciples from getting to the other side, from doing what Jesus has asked them to do. The storm was also trying to prevent them from reaching the demon-possessed man on the other side who desperately needed to be set free. When we know this, we can understand that there might be dark spiritual forces trying to prevent them from getting over to help him.
That’s what the storms in our lives can often do. The storm in my life is anything which is trying to stop me from getting to where I need to be. The storm is anything coming between where I am right now and God’s destiny for me. The storm anything that’s trying to take me off course, get me discouraged, causing me to pull back, to not fulfil God’s call on my life, to give up, to feel overwhelmed, to quit.
Do you know what I’ve found? There’s nearly always a storm. When God calls you to the other side, to do something new, to make a difference, to impact the world around you, when you decide to make the changes you need in any part of your life – there’s almost always some opposition that comes between you and what you’re trying to do. The opposition might be from people, it might come through accidents or circumstances, or it might come from within you – but there’s nearly always something you need to push through, something trying to oppose you, standing against you.
The most difficult year in my ten years of ordained ministry was also my most fruitful year. In the midst of seeing people come to faith in Jesus every week, we experienced a year of ongoing sickness, relational tensions, financial challenges and other difficulties.
When you’re in the storm ask yourself – what is on the other side that the storm is trying to prevent me getting to?
This wasn’t just about the disciples, it was about the man they would set free when they got to the other side.
In the same way, when you are obedient to Jesus and seek to move forward, the enemy knows that it’s not just about you and your life - it’s about the other people that your life will impact when you get to the other side. It’s the friends, family members and people in your community that Jesus wants to reach, heal, save and set free through you. So don’t be surprised if it feels like every demon in hell is trying to take you off course, trying to make you give up.
Look beyond the storm to see what's waiting for you at the other side and the storm might begin to make more sense.