The Storms of Life and the Anchor of God by Rick Warren
The Bible teaches us that there are three kinds of storms in life: storms that we bring on ourselves (like Samson), storms that God causes (like Lake Galilee), and storms that other people cause (as when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison). When you are the innocent party in a crisis, that last kind of storm is especially hard to take.
How do we stay calm and maintain our confidence and courage, regardless of what happens?
God put the apostle Paul, as a prisoner, on board a ship headed from Palestine to Rome. After the ship ventured through the Mediterranean Sea and docked at the island of Crete, God told Paul to advise the crew not to leave the harbor because there was going to be a great storm. But the sailors were impatient to get to a better harbor, so they ignored what God had told them through Paul (Acts 27:9–12).
Impatience often gets us into trouble.
I have spoken with many crisis-ridden people who were impatient: impatient to get married, impatient to get a new job, or impatient to move to the other side of town. They didn’t take time to check things out with God, and they sailed right off into the awaiting storms.
3 common reasons why people get themselves in a mess:
1. Wrong Guidance from the Experts
The only truly reliable expert is God.
2. Wrong Guidance from a Vote
The fact is that the majority can be wrong. We can get ourselves into a real mess by following the prevailing opinion, the most popular ideas. If we listen to God, we will go in the right direction.
3. Wrong Guidance from Circumstances
I have heard people say, “Well, this decision must be okay because I feel so good about it.” The fact is that feelings often lie. If God says, “Wait in the harbor,” you had better wait in the harbor.
What Not to Do in a Crisis
The first thing that storms tend to do is to cause us to drift. We let go of our goals. We forget where we are headed. We forget our values and start drifting.
When a crisis emerges for us, first we start drifting, then we start discarding things from our lives.
Often, when we find ourselves in a crisis of life, we are tempted to throw out the very things that are important to us because we are under pressure and want to get rid of it all. We become impulsive. We give up on our dreams. We run out on relationships. We throw away values that we learned as children.
In an extreme crisis we eventually get to the point of despair and the last thing we throw out is hope.
Perhaps you feel like that right now.
Have you been going through a problem that has been batting you back and forth? Have you come to the point where you have thrown things out, and come to the point of despair? Remember the sailors: they gave up hope because they had forgotten that God is in control. They forgot that God had a plan. They forgot that God can inject hope into an absolutely hopeless situation.
Paul was calm and confident. He had courage in the crisis. Absolutely nothing fazed him.
One test of our Christianity is how we handle a crisis. It is easier to live like a Christian when things are going great, when all our prayers are being answered, when we are in good health, when our income is rising.
Character is revealed in a crisis, not made in a crisis.
What should we do when things look as if they are falling apart and we are battered by big problems?
The safest thing to do when we get in a storm is to drop our anchors. Just stand still.
Situations change, and the sands of time shift. But the Bible says that those who put their trust in God are immovable like Mount Zion (Psalm 125:1).
Often when people encounter a major problem, they want to change everything else in their lives at the same time, because the situation feels overwhelming and they can’t stand still. A person will lose his or her spouse by death or divorce, and the typical reaction is, “I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to sell everything and move to a whole new location and start over.” But that is exactly what they do not need — more change. What they need to do is put down some anchors and get some stability.
The first anchor in a crisis is the presence of God.
Storms can never hide us from God. We may not see Him, but He sees us. We may think God is a million miles away, but He is with us and is watching us.
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. — Hebrews 13:5
God is right there with us. We never go through anything by ourselves. No matter what situation you are going through right now, God is with you. He is the anchor that you can fully trust.
In Acts 27:24, Paul quotes God’s angel (who visited him in the night): “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” God told Paul, “I have a plan for your life.”
The second anchor in a crisis is God’s purpose.
Every Christian ought to have a sense of destiny. You are not here on earth just to take up space; God has a specific purpose and plan for your life. Storms are simply temporary setbacks toward fulfilling that purpose.
Absolutely nothing can change God’s ultimate purpose for your life unless you choose to disobey Him.
If you choose to reject His plan, He will allow you to do that, but the Scriptures teach that no outside person can change God’s plan for your life. God leaves that up to you. No matter what happens on the outside, external forces cannot alter God’s purpose for your life as long as you say, “God, I want to do your will.”
God’s purpose is greater than any situation you will ever experience. God has a plan beyond the problems you are facing right now.
The point is this: It is dangerous to focus on your problems more than on your purpose for living.
Once you lose your goal, you will lose sight of the very meaning for which you exist, and you will become purposeless.
In Acts 27:25, Paul says, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” The third anchor is God’s promise. God keeps His promises without fail. Storms cannot hide our faces from God, because God is always with us. Storms cannot change the purpose of God, because it is ultimate. Storms cannot destroy the child of God, because God’s promise is sure.
Some of us are going through devastating crises right now. Our problems are overwhelming, and we think we are going under for the last time.
God says this to you: You may lose the cargo; you may lose the tackle of the ship; you may lose the ship; you may even get wet — but you are going to make it because of the promise of God.
What should we do while we are waiting for the crisis to end? The same thing the sailors did:
Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. — Acts 27:29
Anchor yourself on the truths of God and pray.
Morning came! The sailors didn’t recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach where they decided to run the ship aground. All 276 people jumped overboard and got safely to land (Acts 27:39–44).
God says, “I am with you.”
Let His truth stabilize your life and give you the confidence you need in every crisis you face. Storms cannot hide God from you or you from God. God has a purpose for your life. There is a reason for it all, and you are going to make it safely to land!