Rebuking The Storm

One ship sails East, and another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
Tis the set of the sails and not the gales,
That tells the way we go. ~ Ella Wilcox

Occasionally I become a bit frustrated with “inspirational” musings about the blessings of adversity and the magical effects of a positive attitude.

When I’m having a tough day, when my wheelchair breaks or my back hurts or I can’t reach the top shelf, I don’t want to be reminded of the bigger picture. I want to lash out with my own deeply philosophical response, something spiritually uplifting like If you think it’s such a blessing, YOU try sitting here for the rest of your life.

I need to be crystal clear about this: I do not celebrate my injury. I don’t consider quadriplegia to be a blessing. If I could choose to walk and run and reach the top shelf without help, I would.

But despite the frustration and grief, I also acknowledge that the bigger picture does exist. That fact doesn’t diminish the pain one bit, but it does place my struggle in perspective. I don’t like the struggle, but I do appreciate the perspective.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4: 18)

Immediately following my injury, I wanted desperately to know whether the paralysis was permanent. Would I be trapped forever in a broken body, or was this a scene from an inspirational movie in which miraculous healing occurs before the popcorn’s empty?

I’m not excited about knowing that my body will likely never work properly. But I am deeply thankful for the understanding that a wheelchair will not be my eternal companion. My disability, like all physical circumstances, is NOT permanent.

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, 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!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8: 23-26)

Jesus didn’t ignore their cries or disregard the threat. He didn’t return to His nap and leave them to confront the storm alone. I don’t think He expected them to sit passively and pretend that no danger existed. This wasn’t the proper time to join hands and sing, “Kum ba yah.”

Instead, He dramatically demonstrated that He was in control. He put the winds and waves in proper perspective and showed the disciples that perilous physical circumstances shrink in the face of eternal faith.

The storm passes, the fury subsides. That doesn’t mean we ought to ignore them or enjoy them or pretend they’re not dangerous.

Jesus never dismisses our struggles or fears, and He doesn’t expect me to deny the realities of my injury. He felt the full wrath of physical suffering; He knows the horrors of a body wracked with pain. He begged for relief even when He knew that His torture was the only way.

Jesus willingly endured the cross because He retained an eternal perspective. He dreaded the tomb, but held firmly to the glory beyond it.

What storm rages for you right now? How can you look beyond the fury to the calmness of eternity?

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Copyright 2009 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site

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