Jesus in the Storm

Everybody loves the story of Jesus calming the storm. And everyone loves to say to anxious and despairing people, “See, Jesus can calm the raging waters of your soul, too.”

Except that’s not what the story is about.

According to the narrative in Matthew 8, this was not your ordinary storm. It had the force of the devil behind it. It was the equivalent of an earthquake in power and force. No wonder the disciples, experienced fishermen who knew those waters, were terrified. They didn’t know what to do, so they told Jesus.

“Save us, we’re perishing!”   

This woke Jesus up from his nap and he was annoyed with them. He was surprised they weren’t calm.

Instead they were afraid and not trusting God for their safety.

I would have been among them.

With just a word, Jesus rebuked the storm and the disciples marveled at this. They wanted to know who they had in the boat with them.

Didn’t they already know?

Apparently they were suffering from dementia. They had forgotten their Old Testament lessons of God creating the oceans in Genesis, and controlling the seas in Jonah, Job, and the Psalms.

Jesus rebuked the storm like he would a demon and it obeyed immediately.

The seas have one master, the Lord. The sea is his servant. He’s king of the ocean and rules it by his word.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus did not pray or ask his Father to handle the storm. He did it himself.

He is God.

He created the oceans.

He is God with us in the storm.

He will not leave us.

This is a promise.

If he didn’t run away from the cross, he will not leave us in our circumstances.

Are you really believing he is with you today?

Talk to me.




Nothing to Say

I’ve been reading the Old Testament, book by book, and then it came time for Job.

I groaned.

I didn’t want to read it.

Some of my friends and relatives were suffering and I didn’t want to hear about one more.

But I knew I’d regret it. It had been a long while since I’d read the book, so I took a deep breath, held my nose, and plunged in.

Here are some insights from my reading:

I was surprised at the many verses I recognized that come from Job.

“For my sighing comes instead of my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water.” 3:24 It echoes Psalm 22.

“Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” 4:17 The psalmist in 119: 9 asks the identical question.

“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” 5:6 The psalms are full of the woes of man in sin, and so are the Proverbs.

I was also shocked at some of the wisdom that came from Job’s friends. Things like, “I too, was pinched off from a piece of clay.” 33: 6 It reminded me of when God made Adam.

“Where is my Maker who gives songs in the night?” 35:10 That’s from Job in his suffering and confusion. It’s reminiscent of Zephaniah in 3:17 when he tells Israel, as they face judgment, that God will restore and rejoice over them with loud singing.

Towards the end of the book, God finally addresses Job. What astonished me was how God described himself to Job. He could have shamed him into realizing his frailty in comparison to God’s power or verbally whipped him with his wisdom. Instead he asked him questions like, “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?” or “Who has let the wild donkey go free?” or “Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?”

These are rhetorical questions and Job knows it.

God continues to the end of the book to describe the creatures he has made, just as he did man, and no one can take credit but him.

By the time God finishes, Job is speechless.

And I was given a shot in the arm. I came away realizing since God is the creator and caretaker of everything the eye can see, he certainly will take care of me and my loved ones. It’s laughable to think he’d forget me and my prayers.

The only reason I’m still around today is God’s faithfulness to me. I earned none of it. I fail him more than I care to admit. And everything I am and have he gave me as a gift because of his Son.

I’m left speechless, too.

So really my life needs to be a showcase of gratitude.

Talk to me.

How The Gospel Changes Suffering – Part 1

Suffering is a fact of life.

Some people suffer more than others, but nobody is exempt from suffering. The bible says so, and universal experience confirms it:

“Man that is born of woman is few of days and full of trouble.” – Job 14:1

Suffering in a world made by a loving God is not easy to explain or understand.

Some have tried, however. The Stoics grit their teeth. The Optimists whistle in the dark. The Mind-Over-Matter types dismiss it. Until they break a leg.

None of these positions really help. But before we look at how the gospel changes suffering, let’s be clear about 3 things the gospel does NOT do:

1. It does not prevent suffering – Christians suffer like non-Christians do

2. It does not minimize suffering – the gospel is not an anesthetic – it does not numb your heart, your body, or your mind

3. It does not remove all pain – the gospel does not promise relief in this life

Then how does the gospel change suffering?

1. By taking it seriously – by pointing you to Christ on the cross who felt intense agony in his body (physical pain), who reeled from the abandonment of his Father while he was left dying (emotional pain), who writhed in fear and shed drops of blood in the garden (spiritual pain), who lived his life in sorrow and grief and rejection from the very people who were his kin (social pain).

2. By not telling you lies that your suffering will soon be over, that it’s just for a little while – how do you know?

3 questions to avoid that add to your suffering:

1.”Why me?”

2. “What did I do wrong?”

3. “What am I supposed to learn from this?”

All three add to your misery. They make you turn inward instead of trusting God.

Instead, this is the question to ask when you’re suffering:

Q: “Where is God in my suffering?”

A: Right there with you.

How do you know God is there when you are in so much pain?

Because of the cross. It was there that Christ suffered all your pain.

Keep the big picture focus:

One day there will be an end to all your suffering. It’s the day of Christ’s return when he ushers in the new heavens and the new earth. And you’ll be there in a resurrected body that will never feel any pain ever again.

And that’s a promise.

Christians Are Human, Too

Have you had days when you feel despairing and without hope? You wallow in unbelief and self-pity accompanied by great heaving sobs? And to top things off,  you know those thoughts don’t honor the character of God, which makes you feel even more wretched.

Does God still love you in times like these?

Did God love David, Job, Jeremiah, and countless others who poured out their feelings in times of crisis and suffering? Some, like Job, even took God to task.

The answer is a resounding YES! He does love you.

You know what? Christians are human, too.

Just read the Psalms. Every emotion is there. The ups and downs, the anger, the confusion, the despondency, the hurt and the suffering.

There isn’t a human emotion that isn’t recorded there. And aren’t you glad. You serve a God who isn’t turned off or shocked by your raw feelings.

And he still loves you.

Jesus understands. He faced it all. And he suffered perfectly, without sin. And that perfect record has been given to you!

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (New Living Translation)

Whatever else you do while the going is rough, remember to run to Jesus, your sympathetic High Priest, and tell him how you feel, and  he will comfort and give you grace.

The Old Testament Is About Jesus

Christ in the Old Testament – Tim Keller

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.