There’s a great Casting Crowns song called Praise You in This Storm (Lifesong, 2005, track 2) that opens with the lines:
“I was sure by now God, You would have reached down And wiped our tears away, Stepped in and saved the day But once again, I say, "Amen" and it's still raining”
How many times have we found ourselves in the midst of difficulties and wondered, ‘God, where are you?’ I can’t even count the times I have literally cried out to God in the darkness of the night whilst struggling with a burden that felt too heavy to bear by myself and it seemed God wasn’t there to hear.
The disciples were caught in the middle of a storm whilst in their boat one evening and Jesus was asleep in the stern. The waves were so high they were coming up over the edge of the boat putting the disciples in great danger (Luke 8:23). Their cry to Jesus as He slept was ‘Lord, don’t you care if we drown?’ (Mark 4: 38)
Despite how things looked, Jesus had everything under control and with three simple words: “Quiet! Be still!”, the winds died down and the waves calmed. He then asks His disciples, “Why are you so afraid, do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4: 39-40)
The disciples had already spent much time with Jesus, saw His miracles and heard His teachings, yet they worried He would let them drown. We are often no different. We know what God can do, we have seen Him do great things in our own lives and the lives of others, but when faced with a new difficulty we flounder and forget who is in charge. It can feel like God is asleep on the job but His Word tells is He neither slumbers nor sleeps (psalm 121: 4).
God has never said that we won’t face storms or come up against difficulties in our walk with Him and often-times, it is the storms and difficulties that strengthen us; that mature our faith and enable us to be a witness to others. James says that we should consider it pure joy when we face trials because the testing of our faith produces perseverance and perseverance brings about a spiritual maturity (James 1:2-3).
Being joyful in the storm is not an easy thing to get your head around though. One of my favourite examples of someone who praises God when all looks bleak is Habakkuk. Habakkuk asks when God is going to rescue His people from the injustices of the Babylonians but God’s answer isn’t as encouraging as it could be: things are going to get worse before they get better. Habakkuk’s amazing response to God is, ‘Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my saviour.’ (Habakkuk 3: 17-18) Wow!
This same sentiment is echoed later in the Casting Crowns’ song, Praise You in This Storm:
“And I'll praise You in this storm And I will lift my hands For You are who You are No matter where I am.”
I think, more than anything, the one thing to hold onto when you’re in the midst of a storm is God is God no matter where we are, no matter what we’re feeling and no matter what things look like. He is faithful, He is with us and the victory is His. We just need to praise Him.