Weathering the Storms of Life: Part 1

In discussing the storms of life, I am specifically equating "storms" to times or seasons where our lives are full of confusion and uncertainty.
The storms of life can be equated with trials and tribulations that Jesus spoke about:
John 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation:but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.


Tribulation: a pressing, pressing together, pressure metaph. oppression, affliction,

When viewed from a proper biblical perspective, the Christian should expect that the trials and storms are coming simply because we live on a fallen earth, which is driven by the spirit of antichrist and is contrary to the child of God.
Nevertheless, Jesus tells us when the tribulations of life are encountered that we are to be of "good cheer because He has overcame the world." When the mature Christian is faced with a trial or tribulation, their initial reaction very well may be one of great concern and even distress, but ultimately, the trial should drive them to put their eyes on the Lord, which produces peace.
Storms, in the natural, are typified by howling winds, destruction, and when encountered on the sea, powerful waves that can drive the vessel off course.
Our journey can be similar to a vessel tossed by powerful waves when we attempt to face the storms of life in our own strength or logic. Actually, it's common for our attempts or plans to cause more trouble, more anxiety, and more confusion.
Whereas, when we look to the Lord, the storm is calmed, we experience peace, God gives us direction, and we learn from the trial or storm we've just experienced.
In the physical world storms, at least hurricanes start with waves; therefore, I'm going to start by using a verse, which describes waves and trials.
James 1:2-8
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;KJV

James 1:2
Testing of Your Faith
 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, ESV

The word "temptations" is used in the KJV and "trial" in ESV. The idea in the passage is that there is a testing taking place through the trial.
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.-- If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Essentially, this passage is speaking to believers. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is clear through James that, in this case, the believer's faith is on trial in the midst of the test.
There are some very important things that should be noted:
1). The unbeliever who is in a storm or trial is relatively hopeless. There is no sense to be made of his plight (situation) because he just believes that random things happen, and he is the recipient of some random "bad stuff."
2). The believer, on the other hand, is instructed to count the trial as joy-- why?
3). The believer is instructed to count the trial as joy because the trying of our faith "worketh" or produces patience. In the Greek this word for patience is synonymous with endurance.
4). The believer is instructed not to quit in the midst of the trial because the purpose of the end result of patience is that we become "perfect."
The idea of the word perfect here is not the same as we use it in everyday language. Instead, it describes maturity or completion. In other words, if we are going to ever be labeled as “mature” and complete Christians, we are going to have to endure the trial or testing of our faith.
5). There is a critical component to the success of the Christian's trial-- wisdom.
• skill in the management of affairs
• the knowledge and practice of the requisites for godly and upright living
• the varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by [acuteness] and experience...
• sharp or penetrating in intellect, insight, or perception:
an acute observer.
extremely sensitive even to slight details or impressions: acute eyesight.
If we are going to navigate the storms of life successfully, we must have the wisdom of God working on our behalf.
Wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit working through knowledge of God's word. Wisdom is not just knowledge about the word of God; rather, wisdom is an experiential working of God's word in us as we travel life.
It is the practicing of God's word to the point that we begin to operate with an acuteness or perception regarding our surroundings and begin to make decisions based upon the wisdom of God instead of the logic of man.
In other words, a person operating in wisdom has knowledge regarding the word of God, knows how to apply that knowledge in specific circumstances, and is obedient in doing so.
6). But when you ask for God's wisdom in the midst of your trial don't waver-- don't be double minded.
In other words, don't ask God for wisdom to navigate in your storm then respond in a double minded manner by steering in a direction that has some of God's instruction and some of your own will mixed in. If you do that, you're off course Christian. You're going to be tossed to and fro like a wave in a raging sea.
If the wisdom of God is not just knowledge, but knowledge and experience resulting in proper application in specific circumstances, then how does the message of the cross or the finished work of Christ fit into this trial or storm equation?
Remember, this whole passage tells us that faith is on trial. Sadly, most people think of faith only as a verb, usually in reference to something that they want (new car, house, relationship...).
In the case of a storm, they may think that the faith spoken of believes God for an escape.
In reality, more often than not the New Testament writers used the word faith more as a noun, as in a place or state of being. An example would be, before Christ, you were in a state or being of sin, but after conversion, you are now in a state or being in a new place called "the faith," which is synonymous with being "in Christ."
In other words, when a person places faith (verb) in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, they are now in the faith (noun).
The faith is a place. Essentially, it’s descriptive of the New Covenant in Christ. It is this faith that is constantly on trial because while the enemy wants to destroy it, God wants to perfect it.
Proper faith always looks to Jesus, the source of victory, and His sacrifice, which is the event allowing sinful man to be connected to the presence and grace of God.
Therefore, just as faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified gives the believer access to grace in order to experience victory over sin, faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified also gives the believer access to grace to experience peace in the midst of his storm. But this must come through applying the wisdom of God in the midst of these circumstances.
The person who lacks the wisdom of God finds his/her life being tossed to and fro like a wave in the midst of a storm. There is no godly direction; instead, this person is being driven by their own logic and carnal appetites (What they want).
Point # 1: when a person finds himself in the trial or storm, he should ask God for wisdom.

However, it should also be understood that true wisdom is something that God dispenses as His children walk with Him. True wisdom is gained through relationship with God. It's not just a life preserver thrown out every time somebody finds themselves tossing around like a wave on the ocean.
Point # 2: sometimes the storms in our lives are a direct result of who or what we allow in our boat.
Jonah 1:1-12
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish:so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.  But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you:for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

Jonah was a child of the most, high God running away in rebellion from the will and presence of God. The result of his disobedience is that the storm is raging, resulting in confusion and chaos for everyone around him.
Have you ever known anyone like this? Everywhere they go, everything they do is filled with drama, frustration, and chaos. Furthermore, if you choose to connect yourself to them while they navigate their disobedience, you will also be affected.
The people in the Jonah story have connected themselves to Jonah and his disobedience, resulting in them also being connected to the storm that is surrounding Jonah's life.
In a similar fashion, when a believer connects himself to people or "things" of disobedience, they should expect chaos and confusion.
Point # 3: the answer to the storm is simple-- throw Jonah out and let Jesus in.
Matthew 8:23-27
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves:but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us:we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

There are other instances where Jesus encounters the storm and brings a calm which we will cover over the next couple of weeks.
However, the main point to be made here is that Jesus has authority and power to change circumstances; unfortunately, many of us, as the disciples in this story, are more concerned or consumed with the storm than the storm stopper.
It's also interesting to me that they were in the boat with Jesus; yet, they were being overtaken with fear because of the circumstances. Ultimately, it should be noted that many Christians want to say that they have Jesus in the boat, but they have connected themselves to Jonah (disobedience), resulting in a lack of God's presence and an intensification of the storm.
If you are experiencing this in your life, the answer is to get rid of Jonah (disobedience) and get a hold of Jesus.
Not only did Jesus calm the weather in this story, but if you continue reading, you will find that He also has authority over unclean spirits, so no matter what you are experiencing in your life right now, I am here to remind you that Jesus has the needed power-- turn to Him!