Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Nate Heitzig: What a blessing to be here with you guys. So excited to study the Word of the Lord together. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 8. We're going to be in verses 23 to 27 tonight as we study the Word of the Lord together. But let's open up right now in a word of prayer. Lord God, we come before you right now, Lord, with open hearts, God, open hearts because we know that you're go to speak to us tonight, Lord, in a real and relevant way. We know that your Word is living, God, that it reveals, Lord, truth to us as we study it, Lord. And so I pray that as we open your Word tonight, God, that you would speak truth into our hearts, Lord that you would cast out fear that you would cast out shame, Lord.
I believe that there's a lot of people here tonight who are going through a lot of different things, God, and I believe you want to work mightily in their midst. And so, God, I pray that you would speak tonight, that you would encourage, that you would give hope. And, Lord, that as we leave here, Lord, we'd leave changed, different than when we came in, different because we have a relationship with you the living Savior, in Jesus' name we pray, amen. Well, hey, I've titled tonight's message "A Storm Is Coming," "A Storm Is Coming." And I know that's not a very encouraging title, is it? It's like we would rather the title be "A Storm Is Leaving," or "A Storm Is Passing," but the title tonight is "A Storm Is Coming."
See, many Christians have this mistaken idea that once they come into a relationship with Christ, once they make a commitment to Jesus and they walk in the center of his will, that they're in for smooth sailing, that somehow a prayer to accept Jesus Christ is the cure-all remedy for any suffering within our lives. And so we say a prayer, we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, and then we expect to get hooked up with a bunch of cool stuff. And we're like, "Hey, God, where's my Ferrari? Where's my six-figure job? Where's that winning lottery ticket? Where's all this great stuff that I'm supposed to get?" Thinking that somehow God's obligated because of this relationship that we have with him. But anyone who's walked with the Lord for any amount of time knows that that's just not the case, is it?
Now, certainly, knowing and walking with Jesus Christ will help us to avoid certain storms and problems in life, but be aware that a different set of storms are on their way. I want to give you guys a truth tonight. And it's a truth that most pastors wouldn't say. It's a truth that you probably don't want to hear, but here it is: a storm is coming. Pain is coming into your life. Tragedy and pain are on their way. If you're not experiencing it now, then you're bound to experience it soon. You say, "Wait a second, this isn't 'positive and encouraging K-LOVE.' What's going on here? Where's Skip? I want him back here. This guy's telling us that pain's on the way. That's not nice. That's not cuddly. That's not what I want to hear in church." But let's be honest, it's not a surprise, is it?
I tell you that and it's hard to hear, but it's not a surprise, because we all know that life is full of pain. We all know that pain and suffering are part and parcel within this life that we all experience. But that doesn't make it easier. It doesn't make the pain sting less. And here's the thing with pain: it never stops, does it? It seems like we're in this horrible storm, we're in this calamity, and we're fighting so hard to get through it. We've got faith that God will pull us through it, and we finally get through it, only to have something even worse come our way. We're like, "God, what's up? Like, give me at least a couple of years of a mountaintop, and then I can experience the week of the valley, but I can't experience valley after valley." Jesus made this clear when he said, "In this world you will have tribulation."
He didn't say, "In this world you might have tribulation," "In this world there's a slight possibility that things are going to get tough every now and then"; he said, "In this world you will." It's a promise. "You will have tribulation." But he says, "But be of good cheer." Basically he says, "Hey, this life's hard, pain's going to come your way, but be happy." "Wait a second, 'Be happy'? How can I be happy when pain comes?" And this is why he continues on, he says, "Because I have overcome the world." He says, "Christian, life's hard, pain's coming your way; but be of good cheer, because I have overcome this world." This world is painful, but be happy, because God through the power and the resurrection of Jesus Christ has overcome the world.
So that someday when you die, you're going to enter into paradise with Jesus Christ and experience pleasure forevermore, and that's good news. Can I get an 'amen' to that? [applause] That is good news. This world is tough, but there's something better coming. This world is hard, but we have hope, and we believe that surely God is in control of our lives as Christians. And so we ask the question: Why does he allow these storms? Why does he allow these hardships and these trials within our lives? James 1:2 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." He says, "Consider it pure joy."
I guess a modern translation would---"Get stoked out of your mind when trials and tribulations come. When pain hits your life, get excited. When pain comes into your life, don't hide under the bed and curl up in the fetal position, instead greet pain and say, 'Awesome, what does God have in store for my life through this situation? What does God want to teach me? How does he want to grow me? How does he want to strengthen me through this situation? What lessons can be learned here?' "Let me ask you this: When's the last time that you approached your pain with that kind of a response? When's the last time calamity came into your life and you said, "God, what do you want to do through this? What do you want to accomplish through this situation within my life? What do you want to teach me?
"How do you want to strengthen me? How can I grow?" Now look, I'm not saying that pain isn't hard to deal with, because it is. And I'd be lying if I said, "You know what? This is really easy, so just be super happy whenever it comes." That's not what I'm saying, because pain is hard, pain is difficult. That's why it's called pain, not ice cream. It's hard. And I'm not telling you to be some kind of, like, sadomasochistic person and say, "All right, pain. I'm so excited!" That's not what I'm telling you. Look, everyone loves the yellow brick road until the flying monkeys carry you to the Wicked Witch of the West's castle. We like sunshine and blue skies, not clouds and gloom. And when they come, we say, "God, don't you know that my life isn't supposed to look like a horror movie?
"It's supposed to look like a Disney movie, #HakunaMatata, #UnderTheSea, #LetItGo. I mean, come on, God, I want to be singing happy songs." Sometimes we think that life with the Shepherd should be like Bambi skipping through fields playing with bunnies and cute skunks. Well, guess what, friends? Bambi's mom gets shot by Phil Robertson and stuffed. That's the reality of life. That's the cold, hard truth. Life is hard. Life's difficult. And you say, "Well, Nate, what about Jeremiah? Jeremiah said, 'For I know the thoughts that I think of you, says the Lord, thoughts of good, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.' What about that?" I want to give a truth that I think could revolutionize your life and revolutionize the way you go through pain.
And here it is: sometimes in God's good plans for us, bad things happen. Sometimes bad things happen within these good plans that God has for us. All you have to do is look in the Bible to see that. God had great plans for David, plans for him to be a king, plans for him to prosper Israel. And, yet, he had a crazy king chasing him around throwing spears at him trying to kill him. He could have said, "God, where's your promises?" God has a good plan for David, but bad things happened. God had a good plan for Isaiah and Jeremiah, and bad things happened within their lives, which is where we get some of these verses. God had a good plan for Elijah, and yet a crazy queen tried to hunt him down and kill him. And he wanted God to strike him dead.
God has great plans for his people, but sometimes in those great plans bad things happen. And that's because valleys, storms, and trials are a part of the Christian life. Charles Spurgeon said this---it's beautiful. If you can write it down fast enough, you should, otherwise you should google it later on---"The Christian gains by his losses. He acquires health by his sickness. He wins friends through his bereavements, and he becomes a conqueror through his defeats. Nothing, therefore, can be injurious to the Christian, when the very worse things that he has are but rough waves to wash his golden ships home." What a beautiful image that is: the trials in the Christian's life are but waves pushing their golden ships home. Christian, you and I are on a journey and we're headed home.
This is not our home. We're headed home, and the trials, the tribulations that we experience in this life are but waves pushing us ahead towards our ultimate home which is heaven. The very storm in your life that you're terrified of is exactly what God wants to use you to bring to safe shores. The very storm in your life that you're terrified of is exactly what God wants to use to bring you to safe shores. You know, when I was living in California, I took up surfing, and I love surfing. Anyone in here surf? Anyone? I mean, we're at the beach, but we've got no ocean. Well, if you've ever had the chance to surf, it's exhilarating, but it can be scary. Because especially when big waves come in, when a big storm comes in, it creates a tide that as the waves hit they go under and it pulls everything back out to the ocean.
And so when a big storm comes and when big waves come, you can very quickly get pulled out a couple hundred yards into the ocean without even realizing how fast you've gone out there. And it's kind of scary to be stuck out on a surfboard in the middle of the ocean when there's big waves coming. But there's something you learn when you surf, and that is that the big waves are your friends. Because no matter how far out you are in the storm, no matter how difficult the storm seems, the bigger the wave, the closer that's going to get you to shore. And if you finally want to get in at the end of a long surf session, you look for the biggest wave you can find, and if you catch that wave, you're going to get safe to the shore. The very waves that you're scared of are the very waves that God wants to use.
So, my question for you tonight as we go through this: What's your wave? What's your storm that you're in right now? And you're in this situation, you say, "There's no way God could use this within my life." Maybe you're going through a divorce and there's no hope in sight. Maybe you've lost your job and it doesn't seem like you're going to get one any time soon. Maybe your kids aren't walking with the Lord and it pains and destroys you every time you see a Facebook post or an Instagram post of them living in sin. I don't know what storm it is that you're going through in life, but I believe that that very thing that you're going through in life is something that God can use within your life. God can use the storms and the trials.
God is in control and he has a work that he wants to do in your life, so don't recoil when you see the storm clouds building. Let's read Matthew 8 verses 23 through 27 as we see this story come true within the disciples' life. In verse 23 it says, "Now when he got into a boat, his disciples followed him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But he was asleep. And his disciples came to him and awoke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! For we are perishing!' But he said to them, 'Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?' Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, 'Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey him?' "This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible.
I love seeing the power of God in the bleakest of circumstances, and I think this is something that will give us hope. But as we read this, I want to keep something in mind: this was a serious storm. You know, we see movies about this and we kind of picture this little storm and the boat kind of rocking back and forth, and every now and then a wave hits over and the disciples get a little bit wet. And they're like, "Oh my gosh! This is my Gucci robe, don't get it wet." Like, we kind of idealize it and think that it wasn't as bad as it was. This was a serious storm. Keep in mind that a lot of the guys on this ship were seasoned fishermen. And this storm caused seasoned fishermen to fear for their lives. These guys weren't "row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream" kind of fishermen.
These were "we're going to need a bigger boat" kind of fishermen. They were guys who braved the storm. Mark's gospel tells us the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was filling up. The Amplified Bible puts it this way, and this will put the fear of the Lord in you: "And a whirlwind revolving from below upwards swept down onto the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in great danger." Basically, they were drowning. They were drowning and Jesus was sleeping. How many of you have felt that way in a trial before? You're like, "God, I'm drowning. God, I'm lost. I'm hopeless. There's no way out. There's no blessing in this trial. Where are you? You don't hear me. You're not listening to me. You're not providing for me the way I thought you would."
"You're not coming through the way I was told you would. Are you asleep? Are you even there?" Does it ever seem like God is asleep in your time of need? Know this: he isn't. The Bible says, "He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps." And I want to be clear here. We can't read more into this story than is there. Jesus wasn't sleeping because he was mad at the disciples. Like, "Man, you know what? You guys haven't been very faithful. I asked you guys who I was, and you guys thought I was a prophet, and so I'm just going to sleep and let you guys drown." No. That's not what he was doing. He wasn't sleeping because he was trying to show them some kind of a lesson. He was sleeping simply because he was tired. Keep in mind that Jesus was all God, but he was also all man.
Jesus was exhausted from the day's activities. Keep in mind, Jesus was kind of in a touring schedule, if you will, of miracles. He was going from place to place, going on mountaintops, preaching the gospel, performing miracles, ministering to large groups of people. On top of that, he didn't have a car or an airplane to take him from place to way of place. He was walking. He was on his feet all day, getting very little rest, pouring himself out. And you know what? Ministry can be tiring work. It can drain you on the inside. Who in here's ever been on a mission trip before? For those of you who have been on a mission trip, it's exhilarating, it's exciting, but at the same time it is tiring. And every night you get off the mission field, you just want to crash. You just want to conk your head.
You just want to get out of the world for a little bit and get some sleep. And when you get home from a mission trip, it's even worse. You feel like you could sleep for a week. Ministry is tiring work. You know, when I finish teaching either here at Calvary or at Renovate on Thursday nights, I feel energy and excitement, but also extreme fatigue. You know, growing up with my dad, seeing him preach every Sunday, he would always get down from the pulpit and I'd say, "Are you tired, Dad?" "No. I'm good. I'm doing well." And inevitably you'd sit on the coach and after about thirty minutes he's out. He's gone. And then finally he wakes up and kind of feels guilty for sleeping, which I don't know really understand why. And then he feels like he has to do yard work.
And so it's like, "Okay, I'm going to go mow the lawn while I'm kind of lethargic and drooling." [laughter] Ministry's tiring work. It wears you out. When you give an invitation for people to receive the Lord, you feel a drain spiritually, and a great spiritual battle rages, especially in the moment of service. And even if we don't understand the significance of the moment, the devil certainly does. And those who are involved in Christian service know of the potential drain that it can bring. But this also gives us an insight into Jesus' human nature. Jesus, just like us, felt sorrow, he felt hunger, he felt joy, and he felt physical weariness. He was so sleepy, so weary, that in spite of the fact that he was soaked to the bone, lying on wooden planks, he was able to sleep soundly and deeply.
Think about it this way: Who in here's ever had, like, maybe a really fun weekend? Maybe you went camping. Or maybe you were hanging out with your friends really late; you were watching a movie. And you just had a really, really fun time, but it was a really exhausting time. And after that weekend, after that fun time, you go home and you fall asleep and it's almost like you're in a coma. Anyone ever had that kind of a sleep where you're just gone? Nothing wakes you up. You wake up like thirty-six hours later in a panic, like, "Where's my socks?" [laughter] I don't know why that's what you're looking for after you've slept for thirty-six hours, but you are. There's nothing that can wake you up when you're exhausted.
Now, let's say you get a good night's rest, you wake up at nine o'clock in the morning, and you have a leisurely day. You just kind of go around and you run some errands. And then you come home and you get in bed and you go to sleep early. Maybe you go to sleep at nine o'clock. I don't know if that's early for you or late for you, but for me that'd be early. So you go to bed early. If you've had a lot of rest, a lot of sleep, and an easy day, anything wakes you up, right? You hear a cricket and it's like, "What's that? There's a robber." Everything wakes you up. You're on the edge of your bed. You can't seem to get a good night's sleep for the life of you, because you've had so much rest. Well, Jesus had had a pretty long week. He was pretty tired.
And he was so deeply, so soundly asleep that nothing could wake him up, but the moment that his children cried out to him, he responded immediately and powerfully. And I think this is such a beautiful picture of God's love towards us. We see Jesus, and Jesus is---despite what else is going on in the world, he's kind of tuned it out. He's resting, he's sleeping, but the second his children call out to him, he's there. So when we're going through our trial, when we're going through our pain, and we feel like Jesus is asleep, first of all, he's not, because now he's in heaven and he never sleeps nor slumbers, just as the Word of God says. But the second we as his children call out to him, he is there ready and willing to help us in the hour of our need, no matter what we are going through.
Though the howling of the wind was there, though the howling of the wind did not wake him, the cry of his people did. And what's their cry? Verse 25, I love it. Verse 25, their cry, their prayer is profound. It's theologically deep. "Lord, save us!" What a simple yet effective prayer, isn't it? I think a lot of us think that we have to get really liturgical when we ask God for help, and that if we're going to pray to God in an hour of need, the only way God's going respond to us is if we have at least five Scripture references within our prayer. And we gotta make sure to mention the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If we leave one of them out, we're only going to get like two-thirds of the help we need. And we think we've gotta be really theological when we're making these prayers of help towards God.
But sometimes the most simple prayers, the most effective prayer---"Lord, help me! I'm drowning. Lord, help me! I need you." Remember, several of these twelve disciples were seasoned fishermen, and so you can be sure they did everything that was in their power to get out of this mess. This was their last resort. Who in here has kids? Okay, who in here was a kid? [laughter] If you're not raising your hand, you're asleep, and I'm watching you. [laughter] It's like a kid doing something bad and not wanting to wake up mom and dad. If you're a kid, or if you have kids, you've experienced this. Mom and dad are asleep, the kid does something they shouldn't do, and they don't want to wake up mom and dad, because they're scared of the consequences.
I'm going to share with you a story, and please don't judge me after this. When I was a kid, I had a very vivid imagination. I still do, but when I was a kid I had a really vivid imagination. I always pretended to do different things. I've told some of these stories before. There's a million of them. Someday I'm going to write a book about these stories. But when I was I kid, my friend Ryan and I were playing some kind of a game that involved guns. I don't know if it was army or James Bond or what it was, but it involved guns and shooting each other, that's all I know. And I wasn't satisfied with squirt guns painted black. I needed to step it up a notch and feel something a little bit more extreme. And so I had this BB gun that was a gas-powered BB gun. Right? I already hear the "Ohhh." You guys know where this story is going.
So I made sure that it was empty. There was no BBs in there. We were just playing a friendly game of "shoot each other." Nothing wrong with that. And so I have this BB gun, all the BBs emptied, and I come up to my friend Ryan, and I point it right at his temple, and I pull the trigger, and there was a BB in the chamber. Don't worry, I haven't been to jail. You don't need to report me to the authorities. He didn't die, but a BB was lodged inside his temple. And my mom had been migraining for the past twenty-four hours and she was asleep inside and didn't want to be bothered. And so my friend Ryan, the second it hits him, shrieks. "Ahhh!" And he's screaming and he's crying and it looked a lot worse than I said it did. But I was like, "Dude, it's okay. It's fine." He's like, "We gotta go tell your mom. We gotta wake her up."
I'm like, "No, we can't wake her up. I'm gonna get hurt a lot more than you getting shot in the head with a BB gun if we wake her up." And so I refused to wake her up. And I said, "Look, I've got a Swiss army knife with some tweezers. I think I can pull it out." I've seen Dr. House. I know how this whole thing works. I can fix the situation." [laughter] That was stupid, but him letting me do it was even more stupid. So we went up to the bathroom and I pull out these little tweezers, which really get out---they really don't even get out a splinter. Let's be honest, they really don't work very well. But I tried to get a smooth silver BB out of my friend's head with it. And so I'm sitting there trying to pull it out, and he's kind of bleeding and he's kind of crying.
And I'm kind of shushing him, tell him to stop it: "Stop crying, my mom's gonna wake up." And then, finally, I've gotta admit, like, "Ryan, it's not coming out. We gotta go to the hospital." "What!? We gotta go to the hospital?" "Yeah, it's not gonna work." So I've gotta open my mom's master bedroom doors, and I come in and all the blinds are closed, because she's, again, sleeping. She's had a migraine for twenty-four hours. What's even worse than waking up your parent who's sleeping, is your parent who's sleeping and is migraining. It's even a worse story. So I kind of nudge her, "Hey, Mom." "Yeah, what's up, Nate?" "So, I kind of shot Ryan in the head, and there's a BB in his temple. And I tried to pull it out with some tweezers, but it didn't work." Oh my goodness, you can imagine how that went.
It was not a good summer for me after I shot my friend Ryan in the head. You know, I can just imagine the disciples' conversation before they wake Jesus up. Like, James is all---"Peter, you better fix this. If Jesus wakes up, he's going to be so mad at you." And John's like, "Yeah, Peter, Jesus is sleeping and you know how he gets when he doesn't get his rest." And then Peter responds, "Well, you guys are the 'Sons of Thunder,' storms are your specialty. You make it stop. If we don't fix this, we're going to be grounded for weeks, and he's never going to let us take the boat out by ourselves again." I could imagine their conversation. But finally, after exhausting all other efforts, they had nothing or no one to turn to but to him. And they were exactly where God wanted them to be.
You know, sometimes the Lord has to bring us to a place of absolute desperation before he can get our attention, and that's exactly what he did with these disciples. Sometimes God's got to take a proverbial baseball bat to our knees to get us on our knees. And God's loving, God's caring, but after a certain amount of time he's got to play hardball and he's got to find alternate ways to bring us to our knees. You know, when I moved to California, before I moved I was going here to a school and I was comfortable. I was enjoying my time with my friends and I was getting involved in a lot of sin that I shouldn't been getting involved with. I was going to parties. I was drinking alcohol. I was doing things that no high school kid should do.
I was going into what I thought was going to be the best years of my life, going to high school with my high school friends, thinking it was going to be so great. And then I moved to California, again, thinking it was great, and realized how quickly I was out of my comfort zone. And I spent most of my junior and senior year by myself in a hall, eating by myself, and crying myself to sleep because I didn't have any friends. And that was difficult, it was hard, but yet it was through that situation of being pulled out of my comfort zone that God brought me to my knees. And I realized that I never would have turned to God, because I was relying on my friends, I was relying on my popularity, on the things that I had, on the people that I knew---not on God. And sometimes God has to do that with us.
Sometimes we rely so heavily on where we're at, on what we have, on who we are, on who our friends are. And we're so comfortable in our bubble that sometimes the only way God can get our attention is by popping our bubble, is by bringing us to our knees, by taking all those things that we so relied on away from us, so that we have a clearer picture and a clearer view of God. When the renowned atheist Voltaire died, he cried out, "I'm abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth, if you will give me six months' of life. Then I should go to hell; and you will go with me. O Christ! O Jesus Christ!" You know, for someone who was an atheist, it sounded like he had a pretty deep conversation with God before he died. Many turn to the Lord after everything else has failed.
Maybe for you it's a break up of a marriage, the loss of a job, a serious sickness, the death of a loved one. Thomas Watson said, "When God lays men on their backs, then they look up to heaven." What a great picture that is. But notice that when we're in that time of suffering, when God brings us to our knees and we have nowhere else to turn, instead of saying to us, "You got yourself into this situation, now you get yourself out," instead of telling us that we should fix our own problems, God lovingly welcomes and receives us when we come on his terms. Remember it was Jesus who portrayed God as an older man willing to lose his dignity and run to his prodigal son and smother him with kisses when he had sinned so greatly.
You know, if Jesus himself hadn't given us such a portrayal of God, it would almost appear irreverent, wouldn't it? It would almost appear blasphemous---Jesus portraying God as an old man losing all dignity, so quick to forgive, smother his son in kisses, so quickly receive him back. But that is exactly how God feels towards us. Christian, I want you to know it doesn't matter what situation you're in, and it doesn't matter if you've gotten yourself there. It doesn't matter if the pain and suffering that you're in right now is consequence for your sin---Jesus still loves you. He longs for you. When he sees you in pain, he doesn't delight and say, "You're getting what you deserve. You should have listened to me. I knew this was going to happen. Maybe now you'll learn your lesson."
Look, God is not your punk, older brother who delights in giving you wedgies. God sees you in pain and all he wants to do is hug you. All he wants to do is hold you. All he wants to do is smoother you in kisses and tell you that "It's going to be okay. We're going to make it through this. We're going to make it to the other side, just trust me." But sometimes in God's good plans, bad things happen. If you feel ashamed that you have doubted his power or his love, remember that even the greatest of saints have at times forgotten their heavenly Father as they have been overwhelmed by their pain. The psalmist cried out, "Why do you stand afar, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Even Isaiah was concerned with God's inability, as he saw it, to help his people.
He said this in Isaiah 51:9, "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! Awake as in the days of old." Do you realize what he's basically saying? He says, "God, you're asleep, wake up! Stop being so lazy. Stop slacking off. Do what you promised to do." Again, great men that when pain, when suffering came into their life, it eclipsed their view of God. Like the disciples in the storm, he wondered where God was in his hour of need. Maybe you feel that way about God right now. You may be facing a storm and it seems that there is no way out. It seems hopeless. But it doesn't matter what situation you're in, restoration can be found. Maybe your finances are falling apart. Maybe you cheated on your spouse or maybe your spouse cheated on you.
And you're in a relationship that you believe there's no way God could restore that relationship. Maybe you did something you weren't supposed to do at work, and you say, "There's no hope." I want you to know, Christian, there is hope. Now, that doesn't mean that you don't have to face the consequences of your sin, but restoration with God is never too far away. So it doesn't matter where you're at, what situation you're in, restoration with God is available. Now, I do want to point something out that the disciples did right: they called out to him. It might have taken them a while, but they finally called out to him. The Bible says, "Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you." When Mary and Martha saw that their beloved Lazarus was sick, they sent word to their Lord: "He that you love is sick."
Scripture tells us that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble." When the people griped and complained about Moses' leadership, he cried unto the Lord. When Hezekiah received a threatening letter from a king who wanted to take his life, he spread it before the Lord. When John the Baptist was beheaded, his disciples went and told Jesus. See, the point is that we must call upon Jesus in these moments of distress. We must cast our cares upon him. You know what? Most of us would like to avoid the storms of life. Let's be honest. If you could avoid the storms of life, would you? Raise your hand. Be honest. I know I would. As much as I have learned things in the storms, if we could avoid them, we would. We would avoid pain like car accidents, if we could.
If suffering was an app, we'd delete it. If it was a Facebook friend, we'd unfriend it. If suffering was a jelly bean, it would be the buttered popcorn jelly bean, right? Nobody's digging through the bottom of a barrel to find those puppies. They're going in the trash. If you like buttered popcorn jelly beans, I'm praying for you. Nobody likes suffering. But remember that God has his purpose in the storms that he allows us to go through in life. Where there are no trials in life, Christian, there are no triumphs. Where there's no trials, there's no triumphs. Think about your pain. Look back at your past and the pain that you've gone through, and look at how strong God showed himself on your behalf. Who in here has gone through some painful situations only to come out of it stronger and better realizing how great God is?
That's group participation---everybody. We've all gone through some form of pain in our life, only to come out of it and say, "Man, God taught me something through that. God did something in my life through that." Question: Why are we so quick to forget that when we go in the next trial? Seems like the second God pulls us out and shows us something great, the next trial we go into we say, "God, where are you? You're never there." What about last time? "Okay, well, that was an exception." We're so quick to forget the provision of God, and yet God always shows himself faithful. Think about it. I want you to think about your life, I want you to think about your past, and next time you go into a storm, I want you to remember God. I want you to remember what God has done in your life.
Instead of focusing on what God should do in your life, focus on what God has done in your life. Focus on where he has brought you from, instead of where he should bring you to. Focus on his love, his care. I guess I could say it this way: I've got ninety-nine problems and a God who can fix them all. God can fix every one of your problems. No matter what it is, no matter how small it is, no matter how big it is, God can fix all of your problems. And through each one we can discover a different facet of God's character. We can discover his provision, his foresight, his grace, his love, his mercy. We've gotten more from Paul's prison house blues than from his worship songs to the third heavens. We get encouragement from when he was in prison dealing with pain.
We get incredible verses that we could have never gotten had Paul had a perfect life. Let's see what Jesus did in the lives of the disciples as they faced their storm. In verse 26 we see Jesus' response to their cry for help. He says, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" This strikes me, because before Jesus rebuked the storm, he first rebuked his disciples. And we look at that and say, "Well, that doesn't seem right. I mean, the disciples came, they called out to him. They finally fell to their knees and they cry out for help to God, and the first thing he does is criticize them? I mean, come on, they were drowning. They were in despair." Better to weather the storm than to face the correction of Jesus. I want to point something out though: he didn't rebuke them because they woke him up.
He wasn't cranky because he didn't get enough sleep. He wasn't mad because they didn't bring bacon and eggs when they woke him up. He wasn't mad at them because of being woken up. He rebuked them because they were fearful, because they were fearful. Their fear showed a lack of faith. You know, a lot of us think that faith means having faith that nothing bad is ever going to happen, faith in God that everything's going to be okay, faith that things are going to go our way. But there's a higher faith; and that is, a faith that waits on God's timing and deliverance out of the storm; a faith that says, "It's all right, because he's here with me"; a faith that says, "It doesn't matter what I go through in this life, because I can know as a child of God that God is seated on the throne high and lifted up."
"That the angels are forever proclaiming his glory, and no matter what happens in this earth, he's in control." He's in control. That is where hope is found---in the fact that he is in control. In spite of all his words about trust and faith, and that there was really no reason that they should worry, that they should truth trust in him, in spite of all these great parables that he had delivered up to this point, they were gripped by fear. Had they forgotten his words just a couple days before on the Sermon on the Mount? In Matthew 6:27 Jesus said to the disciples, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" They had just heard that. And I'm sure that when they heard that they were, like, "Yeah, that's right. That's a good word, Jesus. I'm gonna write that down. I'm gonna get a tattoo of that someday.
"That's just really---that's encouraging. I can live by that." But now they're like, "Um, Jesus, literally, we can add one hour of our life right now by worrying. Literally, we're going to die in an hour if you don't help us. So that whole little idiom about not worrying, yeah, it doesn't really matter now, because now we need you." Fear eclipses our view of God. If I were to ask you right now: "Do you believe that God is good?" "Yeah." "Do you believe that God is powerful?" "Yeah." "Do you believe that God is big? Do you believe that God loves you?" "Well, yeah, Nate, I agree with all those things." But if I ask you those same questions when you're going through a trial, when you're going through the most difficult situation of your life, you might have some different answers.
"Do you believe that God is good?" "Well, not as good as I thought." "Do you believe that God is powerful?" "A little bit." "Do you believe that he's big?" "Sometimes." "Do you believe that he loves you?" "I'm not sure." Fear eclipses our view of God, but know this: God wants to eclipse our view of fear. Fear eclipses our view of God. When we look at God through the lens of fear, it skews the situation, it taints our view of God. But when you look at fear through the lens of God, you realize that fear has no place in the Christian life, that the devil has no hold on you, that although you walk through the valley of shadow of death, he is with you. That deserves an "amen." Can I get an "amen" for that? When you look at fear through the lens of God, it becomes really small. It becomes insignificant. It's the great equalizer.
And we really haven't learned something until we've applied it in real life. And the problem of their fear was based on their lack of faith. They were fearful because they were faithless. And he was saying, in effect, "Haven't you seen enough of my power? Haven't you experienced enough of my love to know that you're perfectly safe with me? You should know by now that because of my power, I can help you, because of my compassion, because of my love, I will help you." And I feel like God says the same thing to us. Again, I said the next time you go through a trial, don't think about what God should do, but what God did do the last time you were in trouble. Because God says to us, in effect, "Don't you trust me by now? Don't you trust that I'm taking you somewhere good, not bad?"
Who the in here's ever done a road trip to Disneyland? Oh, good. Happiest place on earth. Well, my kids love Disneyland and if they could kiss Mickey Mouse, they would. They adore Disneyland. They adore everything about it. And we've done a couple road trips to Disneyland before. But you know what's really tough about going to Disneyland is you've got to go through Arizona. I don't particularly like parts of Arizona. It's hot. It's a desert. There's a bunch of dried up lava in part of it. I don't understand what's up with that. There's dinosaurs on the side of the road. It's not a very enjoyable place, especially when you're with two kids driving for twelve hours. It's even worse. Oh, when we're going to Disneyland, my kids often times on the way through Arizona will scream their heads off: "Dad, I want to get out! I want to go home!"
They're so mad, they're so angry, because they don't believe that I'm doing what's beneficial for them. Now, if they would just trust me, they would realize that they're going to Disneyland, they're going to the happiest place on earth. And if they will just weather through the journey, there's something great for them in the end. The same is true with Christ. We're on the road trip, we're on this journey, and at times the places that we're at, the places that we find ourselves in feel a lot like a desert. And we say, "God, why would you lead me here? How is this your provision? How is this your plan for my life?" And he's in the front seat and he says, "If you'll just trust me, if you'll just give me a little bit more time, you're going to see where we're going." It's a lot better than Disneyland.
It's not the happiest place on earth, it's the happiest place ever, because it's not on earth, it's heaven. God promises to see us through whatever storm we face in life. And Psalm 46:1 says, "God is our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way, though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah." Peace. No matter what happens, we will not fear, because we know the Savior. When there was a horrendous storm at the sea another time, the disciples began to fear for their lives again. And you would have think that they would have gotten a clue at this point. You know, two storms on the sea, kind of a pattern here, but, again, they fear for their lives.
They're going crazy, they're scared, they think they're going to die, but then there's Jesus coming to them. On the very waves they feared would drown them is their Savior. Christian, if you're trying to look for God in your circumstances right now, you're trying to look for God in your pain, look on the pain. Look on the waves that you fear are going to drown you, because coming through that pain is Jesus Christ. The very waves that threaten your life, bring your Savior, bring your help, bring your hope. And so next time you go through that pain, look for Jesus, look through the fog, look through the wind, look through the rain, and look for your Savior.
G. Campbell Morgan said, "He is coming. It's too dark for you to see him, but he is coming. He cannot leave you alone to perish. And mark this, he is coming over the waves that you are most afraid of. The very waves that threaten to buffet and break you into pieces are the pavement for his blessed feet." The very waves that threaten to crush you are the pavement for his blessed feet. You don't serve and follow a God who's disinterested in your life. He is compassionate, he is caring, he is concerned, and he wants to help. And maybe you can't feel or see God's presence right now, but that doesn't mean he's not there. If you go out tomorrow afternoon and it's overcast and it's rainy and it even feels a little bit cold outside, and you can't see the sun, and you say, "The sun no longer exists. I don't feel its warmth. I don't see it with my eyes, so that means it's gone."
Well, try laying out in a bathing suit in that sun for twelve hours and see if the sun exists. You'll find out really quickly that it does as you have to put aloe vera on your body for the next week. Sometimes you'll burn even worse. Or try it with gravity, you're going to get something a lot worse than a sunburn. He is there, not because I feel him, but because he promised to be. And sometimes God calms the storms and sometimes he walks through them with us. And I think both are good, but I think we expect God to calm the storms more than we expect him to walk through it with us. So when the storm comes, we expect deliverance from the storm.
When God says, "My plan for this storm in your life isn't to deliver you from the storm, but it is to walk through the storm with you, to teach you something through the storm, to help you be strengthened through the storm, to benefit you through the storm," it's kind of like working out. I don't work out, obviously, but anyone who does work out knows that a spotter is always pretty helpful when you're lifting weights, right? A spotter is helpful. It's helpful to have somebody who's stronger than you that can stand over you and help lift the weight for you. Now, the spotter's goal isn't to pull the weight off of you after you've done it one time and let you go on your way. No. The spotter's goal is to help you get through the weight, get through the repetitions that you need to get through, so that you can be strengthened by doing so.
And so the spotter will stay with you, at least a good spotter will. He's not going to let go of the weight, let it fall on your neck, and laugh at you; but at the same time he's not going to pull it off and put it to the side. He's going to help you. He's going to lift it for you. There was a time when I worked out, and I worked out with somebody who was a lot stronger than me. And, honestly, when I did that and he'd always push me and make me lift more weight than I could. And it was funny, because whenever we would do a bench press, it was really him doing a bicep curl more than it was me doing a bench press. [laughter] There was very little strength on my part and a whole lot of strength on his part. That's God.
We're in our trial, we're in our pain, and we think it's so hard, when really God's doing most of the heavy lifting for us. He's walking through it with us. He's not pulling the weight off of us and putting it to the side; instead he's helping us get through it for our benefit to strengthen us, to speak to us. Isaiah 43:2 says "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." But no matter what storm you're going through, no matter how intense and severe it is, know this---and this is where I want to come to a close here---your storm will ultimately come to an end. Every storm has an ending. Now, maybe that ending means for you passing from this life into the next.
Maybe that's going to be the end for your storm, but what a great ending for your storm. What a great surprise you have at the end of that storm when you meet your Savior face-to-face. Every storm has an end. Every storm, no matter how severe it is, will pass, and hopefully we will have learned something through it, because another one is surely on the way. As we see in Jesus' conclusion on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24, he says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against it; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against it, and that house fell with a great crash." The storm is coming. The storms will come for both believers and nonbelievers. The rain will fall and the wind will blow, but it is only the child of God who has the promise of God's presence in the midst that he will work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. There's one important thing to not lose sight of in this story, and Mark supplies us with a very essential detail. In Mark 4:35 he says, "Let us cross over to the other side."
He calms the storm, but before he calms the storm, he tells the disciples before they even encounter the storm, "Let's cross over to the other side." That meant that they were going to make it. That meant that before the storm even came, they knew that they would get through it. Now, he didn't promise, "Let's go to the other side and have a really smooth sail," "Let's get to the other side and have s'mores." No. He didn't promise smooth sailing, but he did promise safe passage. It was the devil who was telling them, "You're going to die. There's no hope. There's no way out of this. You're going to drown." Satan would like to whisper in your ear tonight, "You're not going to make it. You're going to fall away. There's no way out of this circumstance. There's no way out of this situation. There's no hope for you."
But if you stand on the promises of God, you know that's not true. If you stand on the promise that we said before in Jeremiah, that God has a future and a hope for you, blessings of good and not of evil, if you believe that God truly will work all things together for good for those who are called according to his purpose, if you believe in those truths, then you know that no matter how rough the waves get, you're going to make it to the other side. Jude 24 says, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling." Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which began a good work in you will finish it." Hebrews 12:2, "Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." One closing thought: it's only the believer that can hear the Lord say, "Let's cross over to the other side."
Only the believer can hear the words, "You're going to make it," not putting their faith in some contemporary view of karma or of things happening to you that are good if you do good things to other people, or some trite ideology of who God is, when that's really not his character or his future. Look, sometimes life is hard. Sometimes the storm comes. Sometimes there isn't a happy ending around the corner. But there doesn't need to be, because it's not the journey that matters, but it's who is traveling with you and what the destination is. I began by saying a lot of us would prefer to have our lives look like a Disney movie. And I think I've shared this before, but I want you to know tonight that your life is a Disney movie.
And you say, "Well, yeah, my life is the part in the Disney movie where Bambi's mom dies. I relate to that part, but I don't relate to anything else. I don't relate to any truth of that." But what I mean by that is this: in a Disney movie, no matter how depressing it starts out, no matter what kingdom is turned to ice, or no matter what cuddly animal gets thrown into prison or gets shot by a hunter, no matter what happens in the beginning of a Disney movie, you always know that a Disney movie is going to end well. Why? Because it's made by Walt Disney, and Walt Disney only makes happy endings, right? No matter how bleak the circumstance looks, no matter what whale Pinocchio is in, no matter where the hero is or where their circumstances are leading them, you know there's going to be a happy ending, because you know who the director is.
Christian, no matter how bleak your life looks, no matter how dark your life looks, you know there's a happy ending, because your director is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ only makes happy endings. Amen? [applause] And so I think it's time for us to trust the director. I think it's time for us to trust the driver. Instead of sitting in the backseat screaming our heads off as we go through the desert, I think it's time for us to sit back, relax, and trust that no matter what we go through in this life, we have hope because we know Jesus Christ, because we know where our destination is, and that can give us hope. Let's pray. Lord, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the truth that is in your Word, Lord, for what it reveals, for how it changes us, Lord, for the hope that it gives us.
That no matter what happens in this life, Lord, we have hope in you, because we know that you love us, because we know that you care for us. And as we're praying right now, if you're here tonight and you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, maybe a friend invited you or maybe you've been coming for a while to check it out and you don't have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe at one time you said a prayer to accept him into your life, but things have changed, life has gotten in the way and you're no longer walking with him. And maybe you're here tonight and you're looking for something. You're in pain, you're in tragedy and you say, "Nate, I need something. I need some kind of a hope do get through this." The only thing in this life that is going to give you that hope is Jesus Christ.
And if you don't know right now that if you were to die tonight, you would go to heaven, I want you to leave here knowing. The Bible promises a peace that surpasses all understanding, but that peace that surpasses understanding comes from our hearts being guarded by Jesus Christ. And if your heart isn't being guarded by Jesus Christ, you can't experience that peace. And so if you're here tonight and you say, "Nate, I need that peace. Nate, I need a relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to know that when I die, I'm going to go to heaven. I want to have a joy that doesn't go away tomorrow morning." If that's you tonight, and you want to give your life to Jesus Christ, I want you to just raise your hand up. You're saying, "Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus in my life." Just raise your hand up.
Amen. Amen. Anyone else? If God is speaking to you tonight---maybe you're here and you want to rededicate your life to him. Maybe you relate with somebody who's in a storm and you're doubting God right now. And you realize tonight that you need to put your faith in God that you need to trust in him no matter what storm comes your way. If that's you, I want you to raise your hand up. You're just saying that you want to give your life back to Christ, you want to walk with him once again. Amen. Well, if you raised your hand up, I want you to just say this prayer after me. Say it in your heart. Say it to Jesus.
Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But, Lord, I believe that you died for those things, and I believe that you rose from the dead. So, Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to live for you, in Jesus' name I pray, amen. Amen. Let's give those people who said that prayer a round of applause. [applause]
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.