When The Time of Stormy Moments Come
First Kings 19:9, 11-13, 2, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:22-33
Storms come with a violent disturbance of the atmosphere, always accompanied by a strong wind. Sometimes it manifests itself with thunder, wind and lightning. Storms are terrifying to experience.
Therefore, in this reflection, we refer to stormy moments as those moments that put us into fear. They are those times we become afraid of what may happen, afraid of uncertainties of life and afraid of what may come against us. Stormy moments can also refer to any terrifying experience we encounter in life.
These two key definitions play a role in the readings of today, especially in the first readings and the gospel.
In the first reading, we see how Elijah encountered God in a gentle still voice or whisper which came at a time He was going through a rough experience of his life.
Then in the gospel, we see how the apostles encountered Jesus walking on the water while they were already struggling with the storm and amid a chaotic environment (water).
There are many today passing through some terrific experiences. The question then is “How do we conquer these problematic situations?” How do we encounter God during troubling experiences? How do we find peace despite the struggles along the way?
To fully understand the first reading we need to read from the beginning of the chapter to understand what truly happened.
After His encounter with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18, Elijah seized the prophets of Baal and slaughtered them at the Valley of Kishon.
Enraged by this action, Jezebel sent a message to Elijah that by this time the next day, He will also be killed in the same way he did to the prophets.
Terrified by this, Elijah fled for his life, to the extent Elijah left his servant at Beersheba and travelled alone into the wilderness.
He even prayed that God should take away his life, to show how distressed He was. It was a terrifying experience for Elijah. Stormy moments will always put us in deep and great fear.
Just like Elijah, we have had so many hard experiences like this. At some points, some may even contemplate suicide like Elijah.
Despite this, God did not abandon Him. The angel of the Lord appeared and fed Elijah and commanded Him to go to the Mountain Horeb, known as the mountain of God.
This is where Elijah encountered God. Therefore, the lesson here is that when the time of stormy moments comes, we need God more.
When the time of stormy moments comes, the most precious thing we need is time with God and not suicide. The Time of Storm is not a time to blame God and lose faith. The time of Storm is a time to remain closer to God. We need the grace of God more at this time.
The Mountain Experience
The mountain has always been described as a place of encounter. Jesus always goes to the mountain to pray. Moses received the ten commandments at Mount Sinai. Jesus was transfigured at Mount Tabor. It was at Mount Carmel that Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal.
Today, after feeding the five thousand, Jesus also went up to the mountain to pray. Then, Elijah encountered God in a whisper at the Mountain Horeb.
We need a mountain experience in this busy world. We always need moments of encounter with God in a world devoid of peace.
It is in the midst of this silent moment that we can encounter an inner peace that can only come from the Lord. The world today is filled with countless problems.
We seem to have become busy and abandoned the things of God. We need quiet moments. Jesus’ mountain experience always comes after having a busy time with the crowd.
We also need to encounter God’s inner peace in the busy world. Just like Elijah. When the time of stormy moments comes, we need more of His presence.
The time of trouble is not a time to run away from God. Therefore, we cannot do this if we do not have a place of encounter, a type of mountain experience. Very often, the Lord reveals himself to us in the quiet moments of our lives. It is during those silent moments that God can reveal to us a lot about whatever is happening to us.
The Apostle’s Encounter
Just like Elijah encountered God during His pressing moments, the apostles also encountered Jesus during a storm. But unlike Elijah’s experience, Jesus came to the Apostles in a gentle way but terrifying to behold.
He came to them walking on the water, which has never happened before that anyone could walk on the water, so they thought this might be a ghost. Imagine how terrifying today’s encounter could be.
A.Few things that can explain how distressed the apostles could be are:
1. The encounter today was at a time they were already struggling with a mighty wind, which must be terrifying.
2. This happened on the fourth watch of the night, which was from 3 am to 6 am, a lonely time. It is practically certain that many could be sleeping by this time.
3. The Apostles were not with their master at this time, unlike in Mark 4:35-41 when they cried to Him to calm the storm
4. Jesus came again in an unusual manner walking on the water.
5. The Apostles are on the boat, sailing on the water. So, anything can happen and they would all lose their lives. Had it been, that was not deep water, they would have run away. Here, there is nowhere to run to.
Just like the apostles we also have our countless number of challenges which can be terrifying.
In the gospel, when the time of stormy moments comes, Jesus walks to His apostles and calms the Storm. Then, in the first reading, Elijah encounters God in a gentle breeze. In our own time, Jesus is also telling us to be calm.
Normally, when people greet me in the morning with bad and terrifying news or a challenge happening in their lives, my first advice to them is always “Be calm”.
Miracles can only work from a peaceful mind, not a fearful one. Be calm first, then rise to the case on the ground. We need that inner peace that only God gives especially at this time. This is the reason we need God most in these moments. Peace is a very powerful source of miracles.
B. The bible said that “they even cried out”. The Greek word used here is ἔκραξαν (Ekraxan) from Krazo (κράζω) which means to cry out, to scream out of fear.
It is like somebody who met a lion in the middle of the night. Such an experience could be highly terrifying. But just like God spoke with a gentle still small voice during Elijah’s troublesome moments, Jesus called out to them.
From some exegetes, it is quite certain that Jesus saw how terrified they were, otherwise, he would just walk into the boat without uttering a word.
In our terrible moments, He always comes to us with the word of peace and encouragement, but sometimes we do not recognize Him just like the Apostles thought he was in Ghost.
What We Need When the Time of Stormy Moments Comes.
In the time of stormy moments, we need these:
A.We Need His Ever Abiding Presence
Today, God came and strengthened Elijah in a gentle voice. In the gospel, Jesus calmly says to them “Do not be afraid” “it is I”.
The Greek word elalēsen “ (ἐλάλησεν) is used here which means to speak or just utter a word. During a storm always pay attention to that gentle voice that tells you “to be calm, it must surely be over”. It is a reminder of the “Emmanuel “God is with us” or the farewell message to his disciples before He went into suffering when He says “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world” or the last message before His ascension into heaven “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20).
Despite the storm, Jesus continues to reassure us of His ever-abiding presence. Therefore, we need His presence. We need to trust His words when stormy moments come to us. Also, we need His grace to conquer our fears and remain victorious during any storm.
B.We need Courage
Despite the things that can make us afraid of the storm, Jesus did not ask us to continue to fear.
He did not try to console the apostles or to reason with them about the cause of their fear but He tells them to do a simple thing “be courageous”.
This is a command to stay in faith instead of fear. It is a command to substitute our fears with courageous hearts.
This is what differentiates the weak from the strong. An Iron will go to where people dread to go. An iron will do the impossible.
Orison Marden says “Miracles have been wrought by self-confidence, the self-determination of an iron will! and impossible deeds have been performed by it! It was this that took Napoleon over the Alps in midwinter. This took Farragut and Dewey past the cannons, torpedoes, and mines of the enemy. It led Nelson and Grant to victory. This has been the great tonic in the world of discovery, invention, and art. It has helped to win a thousand triumphs in war and science which were deemed impossible. It was an iron will that was brought into play when Horatius with two companions held ninety thousand Tuscans at bay until the bridge across the Tiber had been destroyed” (Orison Swett Marden: The Iron Will).
Therefore, without a courageous heart, we shall always sink in the storm. In the second reading, Paul talks of His readiness to face whatever condemnation, if it could help his brothers. A heart that is convinced, can go through any stormy moment when they come.
C.We Need the Word
When the Apostles heard His voice, Peter then decided to speak up. Upon hearing it was the Messiah, Peter asked “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water”.
First of all, Peter requests a command from the Lord to do so. He knows that just like He cursed the fig tree and it withered (Mark 11:12-25), just like the centurion demanded that Jesus speaks only the word and his servant will be healed, (Matthew 8:5:13), just like He commanded the storm and it became still (Mark 4:35-41), just like He commanded healing unto the Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), He needs nothing but a command from the Lord.
He knows that His commands carry power and obeying the command is already swimming in the same current.
Immediately Jesus spoke, and Peter jumped into the water. Therefore, when the time of stormy moments comes, our proper guide should be the word of God, and our obedience to it. We must be ready to jump into action.
Here, the psalmist says “The word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path”. We need His Word to help, inspire and encourage us again.
D.We need Faith
When Peter was joyously walking on the water to Jesus, the gospel he says, he took notice of the wind and immediately began to sink.
This event happened already in a chaotic environment; there is the presence of a storm already and also it happened on the water.
When Peter initially paid attention to the Lord and followed his word, he couldn’t notice the wind. The word of God gives joy and peace to the soul.
Therefore, whenever we keep our faith in His word, and focus our attention on Him and not on our circumstances, we shall end in victory. It may be stormy but we will always walk through it.
When we trust the word of God in those depressing times, We might not even know that such exists. We sing then with David, who says: that even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of darkness I fear no evil, for you are with me”.
Hence, whenever we begin to focus on our problems, circumstances, and difficulties, we begin to die in worry and sink gradually. We need faith. Without this, we shall always sink into the storm.
Always Focus on the Power of God to see you Through
In the gospel, When the disciples saw him they became terrified and they cried out in fear. Jesus immediately said to them: take courage, It is I do not be afraid. In essence, Jesus is telling them to focus on Him and not on the circumstance. They should focus on who He is and not what they think they are seeing.
Jesus is teaching us that in our times of challenges, we have to focus on what He can do and not on what we are seeing presently. There are many ghosts today that have made us crippled in fear. These problems sometimes hold us to the ground.
Many problems today make us cry out and ask God why me. The point is that we are focusing our attention more on the circumstances instead of holding firm on the power of God to see us through.
Focus on the Storm and Sink, Focus on God and Stand.
While Jesus was walking on the water, Peter said “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you”. Jesus told him to come. Based on His word to “come,” Peter had the full courage to walk on the water to Jesus.
Imagine how happy Peter was as he walked to Jesus Christ.
As he kept looking at Jesus, Peter was surmounting all the insurmountable. Peter was doing the impossible. He was not afraid. He was walking perfectly.
When Peter saw the wind, Peter became afraid. He began to fear and sink. He started crying.
Therefore, the problems at hand can never do any good to you if not to sink you deeper into them. The more you are so engraved in them that you focus entirely on them, they will put fear in you. And when you become afraid, you begin to fear and sink deeper into the problems.
If you stay focused on the circumstances surrounding you, you can lose faith, get down and give up easily. Your health will be so much affected and you begin to lose weight. Like the apostles and Peter, you will begin to cry from morning till night without having anything to achieve.
Instead of this, place or stretch your hands on any affected area and decree powerful words of faith.
Say that no matter what happens, victory must be yours in the end. Speak positive words not negative words.
If you are having bad health and you are always focused on how the medical report is not good, it will drain the little energy you have.
You have to stay focused on the power of God. You have to believe strongly and affirm His power over the situation at hand.
While Peter was sinking, Jesus only blamed him for having little faith in Him. He said to him in verse 31 “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
When you focus on the promises and power of God to see you through you will walk to a breakthrough. You will have enormous strength and courage. Problems can never sink anyone whose heart is determined.
Then when your heart is so strengthened by God, you will go places you could not go on your own.
You will overcome obstacles that you once thought you would never overcome.
Most of those circumstances are tests. Therefore, do not sink into them. Do not get distracted by them.
Keep focusing on the graces, mercy and power of God to see you through. It shall end in victory.
1. Just like the disciples today saw Jesus and misinterpreted him to be a ghost, this is how many of us have misinterpreted some blessings coming into our lives.
Blessings must not come like luck. Sometimes they are packaged in ways we may not understand. Sometimes they are stored behind those challenges. And just like the apostles today were terrified by such an encounter when the object of their fear is harmless, is also how many of us live in fear over something when in actual truth, the situation is not fearful in itself.
What might be holding many today is the fear of something that is not even harmful. Many are afraid of what they may face, not that they must surely face it.
Sometimes unpleasant situations which make you terrified can be a Jesus coming to you. They look like ghosts but they can be blessings in disguise.
Many tough situations come to draw you out of your comfort zones. That heartbreak that has given sleepless nights could be a way God is saving you from the wrong person. Also those people that gave a sack letter, telling you to stop working for them, could be a way God is pushing you to create your own business and become in charge of it. Quit seeing everything as bad.
2. Like Jesus and Elijah did, we need quiet times, with God. It is in the midst of these quiet times that we receive the greatest inspiration. That time we use in worrying could be used in thinking out solutions.
In Matthew 17:14-20, when the disciples of Jesus could not deliver the son of a man brought to them. They did not spend their time blaming Jesus that He did not teach them, like some blame religion, Christianity, and God even. etc
In their private time, what they did was ask Jesus the reason such happened. Quiet times are times to find out what is working and what is not working in your life.
It is a time of intense prayer, a moment with God, a time to seek what went wrong and reevaluate new strategies.
Let us learn to develop our quiet times. Do not be surprised that what we might need to solve that particular problem is just a simple idea. This always comes in our silent times with God-like inspiration.
3. Finally just like Peter cried out while sinking in the sea, do not keep quiet and continue to die in silence. If you do not know how a thing is done, cry out to people who may help you and direct you.
Peter did not die in silence because He cried out. Many today are dying in silence and passing through a lot of challenges.
Find people who have done what you are doing to help you. Also, spend time with God and cry out to him for help. The moments of our distress should be a time we have to increase our time of prayers and not a time of losing faith.
4. In the gospel, Jesus is the helping hand that draws Peter out of the water. The Hand of Jesus prevented Peter from sinking into the lake. We need this helping hand also.
Let us be the helping hand that encourages others in their difficult times. Instead of misleading them, let us be the helping hand that prevents people from sinking into sin, regrets, lack and difficult situations.
Use your gift as much as you can to lift others. We need more helping hands, especially in this moment of difficult situations.
So remain inspired, Be blessed and stay faithful, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Happy Sunday and God Bless you