Jesus—God’s Answer to Man’s Despair
You have a friend whose name you may not recognize. He’s been around for a long time, but you didn’t know he was a friend. Yet he is a true friend.
A true friend…
- makes you a better, sharper person. He’ll put an edge on your life. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).
- may have to hurt you at times in order to help you. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” (Proverbs 27:6).
Would you like to have a friend who helps you live a clean life, draws you closer to Jesus, gives you more strength and helps you become a more mature believer? You already have that friend. So do I. We all do. His name is “Trouble.”
Remember when the disciples got into a ship to go across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, and a great storm arose? We read in John 6 that they’d set sail because our Lord had told them to. They were seasoned sailors, little aware trouble was coming.
When they started out, no doubt it was lovely and peaceful. The Sea of Galilee at dusk is one of my favorite places in the land of Israel. It should have been a beautiful, tranquil time. Everything seemed wonderful. Jesus had just fed the 5,000 and the crowds were clamoring for Him. He had gone up the mountain to pray, and at His instruction they’re sailing along. But they’re sailing into the teeth of a storm. Suddenly the wind whips up, the moon is hidden, the shoreline is lost in inky blackness. Their hands are paralyzed with fear, their backs are aching, but they can’t stop rowing. They’re filled with despair.
Maybe you’ve been there. Or perhaps everything for you is smooth sailing right now. If so, just wait. Sooner or later the winds will begin to blow.
I’ve often said, in our lives we’re always either—
- entering a crisis
- in the middle of a crisis
- or coming out of a crisis
The disciples are going to learn that Jesus is God’s answer to man’s despair.
Six Anchors for Your Soul
I want to give you six things you need to say when you find yourself in a storm.
#1—I am governed by His providence.
The storm didn’t take Jesus by surprise. Matthew 14:22 tells us, “He constrained His disciples” to get into the ship. They weren’t there because they were out of the will of God. He sent them into it. Furthermore, He had the power to still the waves and walk on water. In fact, “He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof” (Psalm 107:25). He created Galilee long ago!
Perhaps right now you’re in the eye of a storm. It looks like your boat is sinking. Icy water is reaching up for you. It’s so dark you can’t see your hand before your face. Every wind seems contrary.
Nothing comes to you that God has not allowed. One way or the other, His providence is there. Whether you can understand it or not, you are governed by His providence. God has not relinquished His rule upon His universe.
#2—I am growing by His plan.
The Lord Jesus engineered these problems for His disciples. What is God’s plan for you? He wants to enlarge you, not indulge you. He’s not as interested in making you happy as He is in making you holy. God will put us into trouble because He wants to develop us. When have you grown the most? When your friend trouble came along. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psalm 4:1).
I have grown the most in my own life in times of deepest despair. I know that when Joyce and I had a little baby boy step over into Heaven, we grew a quantum leap in that period of time. When my daughter went through deep heartache and distress, God stretched my life. I would never want it to happen again, but it did happen. And I’m here to tell you that I’m a better person because of it. Many of us can agree as we recall the storms we’ve gone through.
I walked a mile with pleasure,
She chatted all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow
And not a word said she,
But oh, the things I learned from sorrow,
When sorrow walked with me.
Faith, like film, is developed best in the dark. Trouble is there to make us grow.
#3—I am graced by His prayers.
What was the Lord Jesus doing up on that mountaintop while His disciples were battling the storm? Praying. He never took His eyes off them (Mark 6:47). They couldn’t see Him, but He could see them. He was interceding. “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25.
Are you in the midst of a storm? You are on Jesus’ prayer list. He knows you. The very hairs of your head are numbered.
#4—I am gladdened by His presence.
I can imagine them there with their backs aching, looking into a watery grave, asking, “Where’s Jesus? If He could feed five thousand, where is He?”
He had not forgotten them; they had forgotten Him.
“and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” Mark 6:51b-52.
They’d seen Him feed 5,000, and twelve baskets were left over—one for every disciple—and the Bible says they forgot all about the miracle of the loaves! They’re saying “Give us another miracle.” But what they needed was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
How easily we forget miracles. That’s the reason you need more than miracles to live on. You need Jesus.
In the darkest hour of the night, Jesus came, walking on the waves, coming to them in their fright. “But he saith unto them, It is I, be not afraid” (John 6:20).
Why did He not come sooner? Did He just want them to suffer? He waited a while before He came to them strategically at exactly the right time.
“Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you” (Isaiah 30:18).
Many times the Lord will deliberately delay. Jesus delayed coming to Lazarus’ bedside because He had something greater—raising Lazarus from the dead. God waited 4,000 years before he sent the Lord Jesus after He promised a Messiah. But the Bible says He came in the fullness of time. Never late, never ahead of time, never in a hurry.
If you are in trouble, Habakkuk 2:3 is a great verse for you. “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it.”
His eyes are upon me as He prays for me. He will come to me, and I will be gladdened by His presence.
#5—I am guarded by His power.
Someone has said, “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.” When He comes to them walking on the waves, that kingly form with the wind in His hair, His footsteps on the sea, His garments billowing back, at first they draw back in terror, thinking it’s a phantom. Soon terror turns to joy when they hear Him say, “It is I; be not afraid .”
What He literally said is, “Don’t be afraid, I am.” He used the name for Jehovah, the most sacred name to the Jews. “I AM” is a declaration, a proclamation of presence, a promise of abundance. He is “I AM” in the midst of your storm.
Jesus is saying that there never was a time when He was not. He is the great eternal God. “Don’t be afraid. I AM—when this pond, Galilee, wasn’t even a vapor.” Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33.) We’re overcomers in Jesus Christ. You are guarded by His power.
#6—I am guided by His purpose.
God has not promised you smooth sailing—He has promised a safe landing. “Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went” (John 6:21). Here Jesus first suspends the law of gravity, then overrules the laws of time and space. Just like that, they’re at the shore.
Jesus will see you to the shore. Andrew Murray said, “God is willing to assume the full responsibility for the life totally yielded to Him.” You may have trouble, tears and heartache, but I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, you are predestined to be like Jesus. One day your destiny will be fulfilled. “He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it” (Philippians 1:6).
If you’re in trouble right now, His eye is on you. He’s praying for you. He will come to you, and I can promise you this, He is going to see you through. He said. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).
One day He is going to step down from the mountain of His glory. “Walking on water” will seem like child’s play, because He’ll be stepping on the clouds. He’s coming to us. As our world’s barometer falls, the winds are raging and storms are coming. We ask, “What is the world coming to?” It’s coming to Jesus—because Jesus is coming to this world.
Jesus will step out of the glory, a rainbow around His shoulders, victory on His face as the great I AM, and the trumpet will sound. Our little ship will leave the sea of time and immediately we’ll be on the shores of eternity.
In His providence He allows us trouble and heartache, but He never takes His eyes off us. Jesus will come to you in the darkest hour and see you through. He always has and He always will.