Peace in the Storm by Shawn Johnson
The thing about Southwest Florida is that every summer, we have afternoon storms. I am not a stranger to them. In fact, right now as I write this I am listening to the wind howl and wondering what kind of storm will this one be? Will there be loud claps of thunder? Will lightning explode across the skies? Or will it just quietly roll through with the gentle patter of rain?
Every storm is different. Occasionally, it is a hurricane.
From experience, I know that no matter how much damage a storm does – it will pass on. It will come to an end. I also know how time seems to slow down to a crawl when a vicious storm rages overhead. It feels like it will never end. Anxiety and fear come to the front of your attention and in it, you wonder “will we ever get through this?”
I imagine that this is how the disciples must have felt in the story of when a vicious storm came upon them as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee and Jesus was sleeping:
“Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matthew 8:24 NIV)
At least with our natural summer storms, we can see them coming but COVID -19 felt like it came upon our nation just as “suddenly” as the story above. We heard about it impacting a faraway land and then “suddenly” it showed up on our shores. Not only that but it was worse than we heard it would be and it impacted each one of us more than we ever imagined.
During this time I have been trying to maneuver the emotions that uncertainty and the unknown of what this storm might bring: fear, lots of fear; anxiety, lots of anxiety; sadness, depression, and more. I have experienced the whole range of these emotions over the last several weeks and I am sure I will continue to feel them in the coming weeks as well.
What did Jesus do in the middle of the storm?
“He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” ( vs 26)
Jesus spoke to the storm and it quieted.
But there were other storms, He let rage, like the one in Matthew 14:23-27 when He simply walked on the water and through it:
“Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
One of my favorite quotes is:
“Sometimes Jesus calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child”.
Jesus knew that the storm did not decide His destiny – God, His Father did.
Beloved, storms come and go but who you are to God does not change. You are His child and Jesus made sure through the cross and resurrection that you could always come to your Father and ask for help. I have run to my Father in heaven many times during the last few weeks.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalms 56:3.)
When I put my trust in our Father, the storms raging inside of me calm like the morning sun brings new light.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalms 143:8.)
Are you anxious today? Are you fearful? Do you feel like time has slowed down to a crawl and maybe this storm will never end? When a vicious storm rages overhead, it feels like it will never end. Do you wonder “will we ever get through this?” Are you consumed with the news because you think it will help you feel better if you know what is happening? That is what I do. I keep thinking that if I know what is happening, the “fear storm” within me will calm. But it doesn’t. The news always makes it worse.
When I get in that place, God brings me back to His Word:
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7).
There is only one place to go to ease your fears: the presence of your loving Father. Sometimes He will calm the storm around you. Sometimes He will calm the storm within you. Always, He will welcome you in, put His strong arms around you, and whisper into your heart that no matter what happens, you will get through it.
Shawn Johnson is a woman who lives her life with faith, energy and a “nothing is impossible” attitude. She is a wife, mother, business leader and I am blessed to say, my Assistant. One of my favorite things about Shawn is her smile because when she smiles, you believe that nothing is impossible too. I know her words will encourage you today.
– Cindy Grasso