Hope For the Anxious

Hope For the Anxious

A few days ago, I found myself in the middle of a storm. You may have heard about the massive dust storm that covered Arizona last week. (If not, here’s a crazy video of it.) While that storm sent people into their homes looking for cover, I was stranded on an airplane, sitting on the runway, waiting until it was safe for ground crews to direct us toward a gate.

To be honest, I was pretty oblivious to the storm at first. It was late at night, and I was dozing. But when we were finally allowed to disembark, a new storm started raging in my heart.

I suddenly found myself in an unfamiliar airport, alone at 1:00 in the morning. I missed my fight home and was shuffled toward an extremely long line of passengers waiting to rebook. I didn’t have access to my luggage. All of the restaurants were closed and I was hungry, with no way to get food. I didn’t know where I would sleep or whether or not I would be safe.

In addition to feeling tired, hungry, and homesick, I felt . . . anxious. I was afraid and nervous. I was eager for my circumstances to change. I didn’t know what would happen next, and the possibilities made my palms sweat.

Forecast? Stormy Weather

Don’t worry—this isn’t just a pity party by a weary traveler. We all know that travel plans can go haywire, and I eventually made it home. But I wonder how many of you find yourselves in the middle of a storm?

  • Your parents fight all the time. You wonder if they will stay married.
  • Your friend is mad at you. You’ve tried talking to her, but it hasn’t helped.
  • Everyone keeps mentioning college. You want to get in to a great school and eventually get a great job, but the pressure to have perfect grades makes you feel mostly S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D.
  • Your youth pastor is leaving, and your youth group is falling apart.
  • That boy you like likes you back, but your parents say "no." As a result, your heart feels like a tornado.

I’m not sure what your storm is, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever felt anxious while waiting for the dust to settle.

When we are anxious in the middle of a storm, where can we look for a lifeline?

The Winds And Waves Obey Him

Jesus knows a thing or two about storms. Mark 4:35–41 tells about a time that Jesus found Himself smack dab in the middle of one. I’d encourage you to read the entire story (just one short paragraph), but here are the highlights:

  • Jesus and His disciples are on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.
  • Other boats were with them. (That little detail will matter in a minute.)
  • A great windstorm arose.
  • It was such a big and scary storm that the boat started to break.
  • The disciples started having a full-on freak-out.
  • But not Jesus. He was peacefully sleeping while the storm raged.

The disciples woke Jesus up from His nap this way:

"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" (v. 38).

Be honest. When you find yourself in a middle of a storm, do you ever ask Jesus a version of this same question? In your heart, do you find yourself feeling like God let you down? Do you wonder if God caused the storm or why He allowed it to happen? Do you doubt that He will come to your rescue?

Me, too. And apparently so did the disciples.

And [Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (v. 39).

The winds and waves obeyed Jesus. A storm that seconds earlier was ripping a boat to shreds suddenly got quiet.

This reality caused the disciples to have a different kind of freak-out.

He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (vv. 40–41).

Why We’re Really Anxious

God’s promises hold firm in every storm.

Yes, I am sure that storm was scary. Yes, watching chunks of your boat fall off into a raging sea would make me anxious, too. But that’s not really why the disciples were scared.

They forgot who was at the helm of their ship. Jesus was there. He was in charge. When they forgot that . . . when they thought the outcome was up to them . . . then, they got stressed.

Life’s storms have a way of clouding our vision. They make it hard for us to remember the promises of God because the sounds of thunder and lightning are so loud. But God’s promises hold firm in every storm.

That’s why God commands (yes, commands!) us not to be anxious:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6).

God isn’t saying there will never be trouble, He is just clear that He is in charge no matter what. When anxiety makes us feel out of control, the antidote is to remember that God is always in control.

The Other Ships

There’s an old sermon that I love in which the pastor points out that Jesus’ boat was not the only ship on the water that day. Certainly, His was not the only one being beaten by the storm.

But when God commanded the winds and waves to be still, all of the boats were brought under His control.

When the Lord’s ship got calm, so did the others. This is how it works with our lives. When we recognize that God is in charge, it impacts our:

  • friend-ships
  • relation-ships
  • owner-ship
  • disciple-ship

And ultimately our wor-ship.

We can praise God in any storm instead of feeling anxious, worried, or afraid because we know He is in charge. He will not fail us. Our circumstances are not beyond His power and authority.

So think about your storm.

  • Are you anxious about your family because you don’t believe God can really reconcile relationships, even though He promises He can change even the hardest heart (Ezek. 36:26)?
  • Are you anxious about your friendships because you’ve forgotten you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24)?
  • Are you anxious about school because you think you’re the one planning your future (Jer. 29:11)?
  • Are you anxious about romance because you worry God doesn’t have a good plan for you in that department (Ps. 73:1)?

God met my every need in the middle of that dust storm. I found a cozy corner to sleep in and a couple of granola bars in the bottom of my bag. I was home with my family in no time, not because of me, but because of God who never left me alone for a minute, even in the middle of a big, scary storm.

What is making you anxious today?

How does that anxiety compare to a God who stills storms?

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