This life can be filled with all measure of things that tempt us to doubt that God is truly good. We see people sick, or we ourselves get a bad diagnosis, and we doubt that God is really good. We see injustice, unfairness and inequity, and we don’t see God acting to fix it, and we can be tempted to doubt that God is good. We feel the pain of broken relationships, and we can doubt that God is really good. We can have something that we’ve worked so hard for, something that we’ve hoped for for so long taken away from us, and we feel hurt, denied what we’ve so desperately sought, and we can doubt God’s goodness.
In Psalm 107 we see an example of God’s goodness in how God rescues those in trouble. Verses 23-32 describe men that went to work:
23 Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end. [b]
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters [c] were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
These men were sailors and businessmen traveling across the water. They were just doing their job. But they see that God has commanded up a terrible storm. The waves pushed their boat up toward the heavens and dropped their boat down toward the depths. It says that their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men, and the ESV says they were at their wit’s end, or we could translate it as “their senses were overwhelmed” or their “wisdom was swallowed up.” They lost their minds; they’re at the end of their rope. God brings them to the point that they realize the insufficiency of their wisdom and their strength, which leads them to call out to the Lord for help.
And this is often how the Lord works. He allows trouble to come upon his people in order to drive them to himself. These men weren’t out in sin, they weren’t looking for trouble. They were sailors doing their job, and trouble came to them. We don’t have to look for trouble in this life; it will often find us. But it’s the troubling times that often bear the most spiritual fruit, because troubles cause us to lean into God.
Israel was faced with slavery in Egypt, starvation in the desert, and a host of other problems that God used to show them their dependence upon him. Perhaps God has used a hard time in your life to drive you to prayer, to remind you of your dependence upon him. Indeed, the most mature believers can recount the hardest times in their lives, and can do so with thankfulness, because it forced them to be more dependent upon God.
God uses catastrophes to reveal our inadequacy; God uses the storms to reveal his strength.
So the sailors cried out to God, and he, in verse 28, delivers them from their distress. He made the storm be still and the sea to be hushed. In a moment, the waters were made quiet. Just like Jesus does for the disciples on the sea of Galilee, God rescues these sailors from their demise, and, more importantly, God rescues them from the illusion of their independence and self-sufficiency.
Perhaps you’re going through a storm right now. Perhaps you’re being tossed to and fro and you are at your wit’s end, you maybe even feel like you’re losing your mind. Believer, trust that God is Good, believe that the same God that spoke and formed the ocean is also in charge of the very storms that cross it. Know that the God who keeps the stars hanging in the sky also keeps your boat from sinking.
Remember that the God did not spare his own son for you, but willingly gave him up for you. If you are worth the life of his very own son, will he not also give you the other things that you need. If his goodness and steadfast love toward you was so strong that he’d sacrifice Christ, will he not also meet your financial needs, or give you the strength to survive those broken family relationships? If he’s not held back his son, will he also hold back what you need in this life? No. He’ll care for you, and has cared for you in Christ.
He’s given you the promise of eternal life, the promise of final justice against your enemies, the promise of eternal bliss in his presence, the promise of final peace, the promise of his affection set upon you for all of eternity. I know the storms of this life can seem overwhelming, but trust in the God who stands above the storm, indeed, the God who stands in the storm.
Your hope is not in the removal of the storm and not in having peace in this life. Your hope is in the God who stands near to you inside the storm. Your God stands by your side, whispering his promises to you, comforting you through his word and his spirit, encouraging you through his body, the church, and supporting you when you stumble.
Lean on God, take your cares and problems to him. He is the one strong enough to bear them, and powerful enough to take care of them. Don’t try to calm the storm yourself; that’s a fool’s errand. But pray to the God who’s over the storm, and pray that his peace will be with you, even if the storm never leaves. That’s true satisfaction in this world: not the absence of storms, but the enjoying the presence of the storm’s master.