A couple of years ago, my son Jonathan was taking scuba diving lessons. He had been trained for a few hours on the previous day, and now it was time for the scuba instructor to take him out for an actual dive. I had been certified as a scuba diver for about 10 years, so I decided to go along with them. As we went to get into the boat and go out for the dive, we noticed it was a really rough day. Jonathan was a little nervous about the whole thing. It had been calm the day before, and he had done most of his practicing in the swimming pool. Now we were going into the real ocean, where the waters were rough. The problem was that the waters were so rough that it was a little frightening. I could see the panic in Jonathan's eyes. I didn't know what to do, because I was feeling it a little bit myself. But his instructor handled it perfectly. He said to Jonathan, "Look at me right now." Jonathan looked at him. He said, "Remember what I taught you? This is what you do." The instructor calmed him down. Jonathan put in his regulator, we went under the water, and immediately it was calm and beautiful and everything was fine.
We need to do the same thing when we face storms in our lives that cause us to worry, even panic. We need to look to our Instructor: Jesus. He is saying, "Look at Me. Don't worry about the waves. Don't worry about the circumstances. Don't panic. Look at Me." I believe there are three kinds of storms we will face in our lives as Christians: correcting storms, perfecting storms, and protecting storms.
A correcting storm is the kind that Jonah faced when He was disobeying God. He caught a boat going in the opposite direction of where the Lord wanted him to go. A great storm came as a direct result of Jonah's disobedience. That was a correcting storm.
Then there are perfecting storms. This is the kind of storm we read about in Matthew 8, where Jesus was teaching His disciples a lesson. In the Book of Genesis, we look at all of the trials and tribulations that young Joseph went through. These were perfecting storms. Joseph had done nothing to bring those things on himself. The very opposite was the case, but the Lord allowed calamity to come into His life to mold and make him into the man that he needed to be.
There are also protecting storms. This is the kind of storm Matthew 14 speaks of. The disciples were making their way across the Sea of Galilee and the wind was blowing hard. The waves were getting big. It was tough going. These seasoned fishermen pressed on, but they were afraid. This seemed to be an unusually radical storm.
To make matters worse, they thought they were seeing a ghost of some kind (see verse 26). They see Jesus walking on the water but they don't know it is Jesus. They cried out with fear. The disciples didn't recognize that this was Jesus, because they weren't looking for Him. This reminds me that there are many times when the Lord is there and we don't see Him, because we are not looking for Him. The Lord is speaking, but we don't hear Him because we are not listening to Him.
Maybe sometimes you feel as though God has forgotten about you and doesn't see you. But Proverbs 15:3 says, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good" (NKJV).
Jesus came to the disciples' rescue in the storm, walking across the water (see verse 25). Did He walk on water to show off? I don't think so. There was a reason. I think He walked on the water because that was what they were afraid of: the waves, the wind, and the storm. He came walking on the very thing that they feared, as if to say, "The very thing you are afraid of, I have mastery over, so don't be afraid."
Maybe you are facing a storm in your life right now. You have done everything you know to do. You have exhausted all of your resources. You need to cry out, "Lord, save me," and He will come to your aid.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.