“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
I don’t spend a lot of time watching the Weather Channel. But sometimes an event catches my attention, and I spend a great deal of time watching it. Such was the case last week when Hurricane Matthew ravished the Caribbean islands and the east coast of the United States.
It caught my attention for two reasons. One is that I grew up in Miami and experienced many hurricanes. So a hurricane in that area always grabs my interest.
Second, and more importantly, our son lives in St. Petersburg. Though he lives on the west coast of Florida, it is a narrow state, and a hurricane on the east coast can still greatly affect the entire state.
Florida governor Rick Scott said, “That storm will kill you.” He was trying to get the attention of the people in Florida. But he also grabbed our attention far away in Texas.
Storms are like that. They grab our attention. They take the focus off everyday life and make us focus on what is really important.
Many people in the path of Hurricane Matthew had to evacuate their shoreline homes. They had to decide what was truly important. What could they or would they fit into their vehicles and take with them to safety?
And God will use storms in our life and marriage to do exactly the same thing.
Think about how often He did this with His people. Remember Jonah? Running away from God’s call on his life, God used a storm to get his attention. (See Jonah 1:1 – 3:3.)
Do you recall Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee? Not once, but twice He taught them through storms that arose while they were crossing in a boat. (See these accounts in Matthew 8:23-27; 14:22-33.)
We will all face storms in this life and in our marriages. But God will be with us and use them for our good if we turn to Him.
Jesus said in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The key is to keep our focus on God and not the storm.
Peter learned this lesson the hard way, as he saw Jesus walking on the water approaching their boat. We read in Matthew 14:28-31: “‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ 29‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”
These examples and other Scriptures give us a survival kit of sorts for the storms that come our way.
So what steps can we take to make sure we not only survive the storms but become stronger because of them?
We Must Pray
First, we need to pray.
Sabra and I have learned over the years that the only way to get through life’s storms is with prayer. That’s because we cannot survive them without God’s help.
Prayer is our connection with God so we can receive His guidance and strength.
Jesus promises in Matthew 18:19-20: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’”
When we come together as a couple in prayer we can be sure that Jesus is with us.
Then when we pray together seeking His will, He will answer us. He is always glad to say “yes” when we seek and pray for His purpose.
We have this assurance from God as well in 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
The writer of Psalm 107 tells of how God saved Him from his distress. He begins by proclaiming “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). Then he explains how God has helped him. Late in the Psalm he writes: “He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:29-30).
We Must Focus on Christ
Second, we must together keep our hearts and minds on Christ.
As Hurricane Matthew grew ever closer to the southeast coast of the United States, people were asked to evacuate to safer places inland. President Obama made this plea: “If you get an evacuation order, just remember that you can always rebuild, you can always repair property, you cannot restore a life if it is lost.”
Focusing on Christ will get us through whatever comes our way. We must follow the instruction of Hebrews 12:1-2: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And we must continue to serve Christ together in the midst of the storm.
Florida governor Scott also said as Hurricane Matthew approached his state: “If you think someone is making bad decisions, call them. Be a pain in the rear. Pester them to get out and evacuate.”
We don’t want to be pests. But in the same way, we must care for those around us. We must sound the alarm to people who are heading away from God and toward eternal disaster so that they at least know the way to safety through Christ.
When we take our focus off ourselves, and instead focus on God and others, we can be certain we are in His will. When we follow God and do His will, as He has promised, He will be with us. He will see us through whatever we are dealing with.
We Must Trust God
Third, we must trust God, His provision, and His protection no matter what comes our way as we follow Him.
When God turned the leadership of His people from Moses to Joshua, He had Moses tell Joshua: “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).
We read earlier that God says the same thing to us as we face together whatever challenge is in front of us. We also find His promise in Isaiah 43:1-3: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
So as you face the next storm that comes your way in life and in marriage, don’t let it take you down. Remember God’s promises. And together let Psalm 56:3-4 be your declaration and prayer: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4In God, whose word I praise–in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. What did God teach you through it to help you toward having the marriage God intends for you?
♦ What Scripture(s) in this teaching are especially meaningful in your lives and marriage right now? Perhaps you can write them down, and even memorize them for the Holy Spirit to use in your lives in days ahead.
♦ What storm(s) are you facing in your marriage? Read through the steps given in the teaching. How do they help you through that storm?
♦ Pray together right now. Praise and thank God for His goodness and love. Ask Him to do the same for you with any storm in your life that He did for the psalmist in Psalm 107.
Next week we will look at the power of prayer in our marriages.
Until then may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,