It had been over an hour. I stood there, holding the door shut to my son’s room while he raged on the other side from a yet to be diagnosed disorder, which has dominated our lives for years. My sometimes sweet, funny, determined little 7 year old is now experiencing a battle waging inside of him. So there I stand, fighting against his surprising strength to get the door open. No matter what was on the agenda at this time, it all goes out the window. My sole focus has now become keeping him and us safe as this illness turns him into someone else. How long will this one last? An hour? Two? All I can do is try to hold back the tears that well up, pray…and wait.
One moment I feel anger and such frustration at the damage that my son’s challenges have caused in our family; fear, hurt, insecurity and confusion in my other children, as well as strain on our marriage. The shrieking, verbal and physical aggression, chaos, and the many hopes for healing that have ended in disappointment seem never ending. Then my emotions shift to sadness, loneliness, and grieving for what’s been lost. My home is not a reprieve; it is where my greatest battles are waged. Aside from a miracle, this will continue to be my life. Not that it’s wrong to seek answers and healing, but it cannot be where I put my hope. Otherwise, I will always feel hopeless and tossed by the waves that keep crashing against me.
On days when I feel the crushing weight of my son’s disorder while trying to care for 3 other children along with my own struggling health; I cry out to the Lord, “Where are you in all this pain?! I just don’t know if I can do this anymore!”
Why does it sometimes seem like God is silent in the midst of the storms that threaten our very lives? He tells us that everything we encounter has been ordained, planned by His sovereign will. This illness and pain is no accident.
“But Jesus, where are you in this storm?”
As I wrestled with that question, the Holy Spirit drew me to a passage in Matthew.
“And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing” And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27
1. Jesus LED the disciples out on the boat even though He knew a storm would arise because He was God. Jesus sometimes leads us to places that contain deep struggle, but He takes us there for the purpose of changing us to be more like Him and to reveal that His power is greater than any storm that may come.
2. The disciples followed Jesus into the boat because He led them there and they obediently followed Him. If we have chosen to follow Christ, we must understand that following Him WILL include storms and suffering. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24 We can’t pick and choose which part of following Christ we want. We can’t choose blessing and not suffering. For suffering seems to be where some of the greatest blessings are found, just as the blessing of our salvation is the byproduct of Christ’s painful suffering on the cross. So do we choose the short term “blessings” of the world, or the path of the cross with blessings forevermore? Only by God’s grace will we choose the cross.
3. “Jesus slept when the storm arose.” Does God sometimes seem asleep in your storm? He does to me. But that doesn’t make him less God or less present. Though Jesus slept as a man, He was still fully God and in control. He went to “sleep” to accomplish a purpose of growing the disciples faith, not to abandon them.
4. The disciples didn’t frantically try to row back to shore. Instead, they cried out to the One who had the power over the storm. Instead of putting all of our hope in our own abilities or solutions that the world may offer, we can choose to go to Christ, the only One who has the power to control all things.
5. “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” The disciples were afraid because their faith was based on what they could see and understand instead of on the truth that Jesus was God. Right now in my life, I see no end to the suffering. No person can or should promise me that it will all be “okay” and that God will choose to heal our son and ease the pain surrounding my life. However, God tells us not to be afraid even when we don’t see any hope in what we can see in front of us. Why? Because He is God, and even the winds and the sea obey Him. And He will only let the storm rage as long as He sees necessary for our good and for His glory to be revealed.
6. “HE Acted.” Despite their little faith, He still acted. He calmed the storm and saved them, but not until they had seen their lack and need for a Savior. Do we try to do all the right things and think that God will see our efforts and calm our storm? Do we try to pull up our boot straps to prove that we are “strong” and in control of our lives? Or do we humbly admit our dependence on Christ and cry out to Him to rescue us from the storms that we are helpless to save ourselves from?
Christ knew that this is where following him would lead, but not for it to end in death. When these storms come, they sometimes show us how much greater of a faith we have in our own efforts and solutions of the world than in Christ alone. It is His incredible grace in our lives to draw us into a deeper realization of our need for Him. So whatever storm you are facing…cling to Him! Cry out to Him! Then wait, watch, and rest in His good and sovereign will with anticipation. For the greater the storm, the greater the platform for His glory to be revealed to us and through us to a watching and lost world.
Clinging to Christ,
To read this edited chapter and more on the hope we have in suffering, check out “Hope When It Hurts – 30 Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering” authored by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell here or here.