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Making Sense Out of the Storm

We can learn much from the account of Jesus walking across the water in the midst of the storm, and from Peter’s boldness to walk on the water toward him.

We are approaching a time meteorologists have identified as hurricane season, storm season. As we read the papers, we see storms in a variety of shapes and forms. We see fire storms in California and floods in San Antonio. Jarrell, Texas, was hit by a tornado. The Caribbean was hit with hurricane force winds. All of these storms illicit a common response from those who go through them.

"Why me? Lord, why have you allowed me to go through this storm? Why did my house get flooded when folks who aren't as good as me, their houses are dry? Why was my house leveled when people who don't even think about you, their houses are standing?

In a real sense, every day is hurricane season in the life of the believer. Every one of us has the potential and possibility of going through some spiritual atmospheric disturbances. When we go through those difficulties, the question that most of us ask is "Why?" I want to share with you five principles that will help us make sense out of the storm.

Principle 1: Do what the Lord tells you to do.

We pick up just after the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. The Bible says that at the completion of that event, Jesus told his disciples, "Get into the boat, I want you to go before me to the other side." The implication is that he was going to meet them on the other side.

The disciples did what the Lord told them to do, and on their way to the other side they ran into a storm.

The Bible says, "They were on their way to the other side." They were doing exactly what God told them to do. They were where God wanted them to be, performing the act that God wanted them to perform. And the Bible says, "A storm arose."

Too many of us, whenever we face difficulties in life, try to find out what caused the storm in our lives. "Lord, I don't know why I'm going through this. Let's see. No, I stopped doing that. I used to do that. I don't do that anymore. I don't see that person anymore. Lord, you forgave me for that." We have been conditioned to associate difficulties with disobedience.

We don't say it, but we live as if being a Christian gives us a detour around difficulties. We live as if, when we accepted Christ, we got a card that says, "You will be exempt from all trials and tribulations in your life heretofore and forever more."

I should add, disobedience can put you in the storm too. But this verse says you can do exactly what God wants you to do, you can be exactly where he wants you to be, and still find yourself in a storm.

Look at verse 24: "But the boat was now in the middle of the sea tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled saying, 'It is a ghost.' And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, 'Be of good cheer. It is I. Do not be afraid.'"

They were walking out. They got on the boat. They cast off. The storm was raging. The Bible says it was the fourth watch of the night, between three a.m. and six a.m. In the midst of the storm, Jesus was going to them, but they didn't recognize him. They said, "It's a ghost!" And they were afraid!

Why were they afraid? Number one, they'd never seen anybody walk on water before. Number two, Jewish folklore says that whenever the storm was raging on the sea the devil and his imps were upset and mad. It was seen to be a form of demonic activity that was exercised through nature.

Principle 2: Don't get so focused on the storm that you lose sight of Jesus.

Don't ever get so focused on your storm you lose sight of the Lord. Some of us get so caught up in the storm, we lose sight of Jesus. We don't recognize when God is trying to talk to us.

Many times God brings storms in our lives in order to speak to us in such a way that we'll hear him when we don't hear him in the calm. When things are going well and you got it going on, God has to call and get an appointment with you. But when the storms are raging, you're down on your knees. "No, I ain't eating. No, I got to pray. No, I don't want any water. I got to pray." Why? Because the storms get our attention.

Jesus says, "Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid." Have a good attitude. I'm here. Don't be afraid.

When Jesus says, "It is I," he gives the most comforting phrase to any Jewish believer. Because that phrase "It is I" in the original language literally means I Am. I Am that I Am. It's the same phrase God used when he talked to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The problem with the children of Israel was not a lack of understanding about what God could do. Their problem was they forgot who God was. They'd been in slavery four hundred years. The patriarchs were dead. And God said, "Tell them that I Am. Because if they know who I am, they'll know what I can do."

Let me see if I can help you. We're going to start a basketball team. A fellow walks in and nobody knows who he is, but he's tall. We say. "Hey, man. Got a little height on you, bro. Can you play any ball?"

He says, "I play a little bit."

We say, "Can you dribble? Can you shoot? Can you jump? Can you dunk?"

"Yeah, I can dunk."

"Okay, great," we say. "We're going to practice at twelve o'clock next Saturday. So meet us at the Y. We'll find out what kind of game you have."

We don't know him, don't know whether he can play or not play. We've got to find out what he can do.

Same guy walks in. But this time somebody says, "There's Michael Jordan." Nobody asks if he can dribble. Nobody asks, "Can you jump?" Nobody asks him if he can dunk. Why? Since we know who he is, we already know what he can do.

Somebody here had forgotten who God is. When Jesus goes to those disciples in the midst of the storm, you know what he says? "I'm going to meet you in your storm." You've got some troubles in your life. You've got some things you can't handle. But I Am is on your side. Whenever you're going through whatever you're facing, I Am is in the midst. It doesn't matter what you're going through. It could be financial or family. It could be personal or corporate. Whatever you are facing, God is on your side, saying, "Don't worry about what I can do. Just know who I am."

Starting in verse 27: Jesus said, "'Be of good cheer. It is I. Do not be afraid.' And Peter answered him and said, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.' So he said, 'Come.' And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus."

He was in the boat with the other disciples and Jesus spoke. Peter, being his usual brash self said, "Lord, if it's you, tell me come to you on the water." Jesus said, "Come on." Peter got out of the boat and started walking to Jesus.

Who went with him? Nobody! He went by himself. You'd have thought somebody said, "Hey, Peter, wait up. You ain't going out there by yourself, man. You don't know who that is saying he's Jesus."

No! Peter went out there by himself. What's the point?

Principle 3: You won't do anything great for God if you won't get out of the boat.

You will never do anything great to the glory of God if you're not willing to get out of the boat.

You've got to be willing to leave the boat people behind. We've got some boat people in this church. They don't want to do anything great. Boat people, "I've never seen it done before." That's boat talk.

The scornful sit in the boat. Sinners stand in the boat. Ungodly folks stand in the boat. Folks who are always petty, back biting, gossiping. Boat people.


Don't let boat people turn you around. Don't let boat people get in your way.

We will never be what God wants us to be individually or corporately until we make up our minds to get out of the boat. Those in the boat will pressure you to do wrong even though you know what's right. Those in the boat will challenge that passion and that vision God has given you. The boat represents the flesh. The boat represents the "survival of me."

The only person who could have stopped Peter from going out there was Peter himself. What are you willing to do to live to the glory of God? And who are you willing to leave behind in the boat in order to do it?

The Bible says Peter went down and walked towards Jesus. You have to be willing to walk alone if you're going to do a great thing for God.

You never see eagles in a chicken yard. You don't see eagles down there clucking and plucking and all that stuff. No. Eagles soar.


God pulls away the mask and says, "Look at yourself." Verse 30. "But when he saw the wind was boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out saying, 'Lord, save me.' And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him and said, 'Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?'"

He went out of the boat and did something great to the glory of God; but he took his eyes off what God was doing and focused on his circumstances and his situation, and he began to sink. "Lord, save me."

That phrase, "Lord, save me," is in the extreme passive voice, which implies he tried on his own to save himself and he could not. Peter was a fisherman. Tradition says his father was a fisherman. Nobody grows up in a house full of fisherman on those big boats dragging nets, working around water, without knowing how to swim.

He tried every stroke he could think of. But in spite of his efforts, he sank. And he said, "Lord, save me."

  Principle 4: In a storm, God will reveal to us that we're not all we think we are.

You know what God will do in the storm? God will reveal that what you thought was your greatest strength is really an anchor that will cause you to sink. God will show you that you're not all you thought you were. You do know we have a tendency to think we're better than we are, don't you? Not you. I'm talking to the person sitting next to you.

We have this tendency to start thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Because we have achieved some earthly level of proficiency in a particular subject, we believe that we are equipped to handle life. 	

So Peter cried out, "Lord, I tried to save myself. I found myself unable to handle the currents and the waves that are coming at me.

And so I realize now that I need somebody to help me who has more strength that I have, who is outside of me who can come and intervene on my behalf."

No, that's not what he said. He had no time for dialogue. Peter said, "I'm sinking. Lord, blubububub, save blububub me!"

The storm will put you in a position where you'll stop taking yourself so seriously and stop taking God so lightly. And you'll cry out for help.

Principle 5: God will save us in the midst of our storms.

Verse 31: "And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him and said to him, 'Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped him saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'"

Jesus was saying, "All you needed was a little faith and you didn't even keep that much. Why did you doubt? You had already started. The hardest thing is to get out of the boat. You had already gotten out of the boat. You were already walking on the water. Why did you doubt?"

Some of you doubt God's love for you. You doubt God cares about you. You doubt that God is looking out for you. You doubt God has your best interests at heart. You doubt that God knows what he's doing. That's why you are always trying to help God out.

You say, "See, Lord, I told you that I needed somebody. But you haven't provided, so let me just go get somebody myself. Let me help you."

"Lord, you know I need more. You know I need better. So, Lord, let me help you out." And he challenged Peter to know who he is.

Jesus saved him. Look at verse 32. The wind didn't stop till after they got in the boat. You know what part of our problem is when we look at our lives? We want God to stop the storm and then save us, because we think storm stoppage is a requirement for God to move. God doesn't have to stop anything to do what he's going to do.

How did they get back to the boat? I don't know because the Bible doesn't say. And I don't care, because the same God who gives you directions that leads you into the storm is the same God who meets you in your storm. He's the same God who will deliver you out of your storm, and he's the same God who will walk with you through your storm. God doesn't have to stop the storm. He can come in the midst of a storm and walk with you right on through your storm.

"Then those in the boat came and worshipped him saying, 'Truly, you are the Son of God.'" Didn't they know who he was?

We don't see God like we need to see him until we go though some storms. When you go through the storms of life, God gives you a picture of who he is that you never had before. Somebody said it like this: "If I never had a problem, I wouldn't know that God could solve them."

They didn't praise him. They worshipped him, and there's a difference. Praise is telling others about how good God is, and telling others what God has done. But you worship him for who he is. They said, "Truly, thou art the Son of God."

It's through the storm you see him not for what he's done but for who he is. And if you know who he is then you'll know what he can do.

D.Z. Cofield is pastor of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.

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Sermon Outline:


Matthew 14:22-33 gives us five principles to help us make sense out of the storm.

I. Principle 1

Do what the Lord tells you to do.

II. Principle 2

Don't get so focused on the storm that you lose sight of Jesus.

III. Principle 3

You won't do anything great for God if you won't get out of the boat.

IV. Principle 4

In a storm, God will reveal to us that we're not all we think we are.

V. Principle 5

God will save us in the midst of our storms.


We don't see God like we should until we go through some storms.