Anchored in Christ

It’s difficult to believe that Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington’s shores over a month ago. While the winds have settled, the rain has graciously quit, and the flood waters have receded, the evidence of destruction still lingers all over Wilmington and the surrounding areas. Perhaps you escaped the storm with little or no damage to your home and personal property. Or you are possibly among the many that faced significant loss as a result of the storm’s relentless rain and wind. Or maybe the storm in your life has nothing to do with a late summer hurricane. Maybe the storm raging in your life has nothing to do with weather patterns. We all face storms. Sometimes these storms are meteorological events, but often they are spiritual or emotional storms. Where do you turn when the wind is blowing, the rain is driving, the waters are surging, and your life feels hopeless? While you may feel hopeless as the waves of life are beating against you like the heavy surf that accompanies a hurricane, your Lord has not forsaken you. When the storms of life are beating against your soul there is a place of security and rest waiting for you. There is always hope because God is ever-present in your life.

The storms of life are not new. In fact, we see this imagery presented in the one-hundred and seventh Psalm. I encourage you to consider the words of Psalm 107:28-30, “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.”

The psalmist describes the overwhelming nature of this situation when he describes the waves as being “mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight” (v. 26). In the midst of the tumultuous waves the twenty-seventh verse says, “They reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.” As the storm raged the people lost their courage. Their confidence and hope melted away with each crashing wave. Their wisdom was confounded, and these sailors found themselves in a time of desperation, hopelessness, and confusion.

Sound familiar? Experiencing storms in life is common, and to be expected. In the midst of the storm we desire rest. While we are trying to keep our heads above the raging waters we desire a haven that will protect us from the damaging winds and water (v. 30).

There are four life-changing observations about the storms of life found in this section of Psalm 107:

The storms of life are overwhelming and confusing (v. 27).

To feel overwhelmed and confused during the stormy days of life is to be human. You may be in a turbulent time in your life right now, and you feel overwhelmed and confused. Perhaps in this difficult time you’re asking yourself, “Is it normal to feel this way?” My dear friend, no reasonable person enjoys trials and difficulties. As believers we understand that God uses the difficulties of life to mature us in our faith, but that doesn’t mean we enjoy these times of trial. This doesn’t mean that in our humanity we don’t feel weak and bewildered. Admitting that you feel overwhelmed and confused in moments of difficulty is nothing to be ashamed of. The question for the believer is, how are we to respond to our feelings of despair and confusion? Wallowing in your weakened state is not the answer. As the apostle Paul tells us we must not lose heart, even though our outer self is wasting away (2 Corinthians 4:16). As followers of Christ we cannot live as if we have no hope. Even when the stormy winds feel as if they are going to sweep us out to sea, there is hope in your gracious Heavenly Father.

The storms of life are not beyond God’s control (v. 28).   

When we allow the overwhelming confusion produced by life’s troubles to paralyze us, we are screaming to the world that we don’t actually believe in a holy, sovereign God who is powerful enough to sustain His children in the midst of trouble. Saying you trust God when the seas of life are calm is easy. But relentlessly trusting God when the waves seem as high as heaven is a powerful testimony to an unbelieving world. Trusting that God is in control of your particular situation is where peace for your weary soul is found. Even the turbulent waters of life’s distresses are under the control of your almighty Heavenly Father. Remember, our physical eyes can deceive us and lead us to questioning God’s love, goodness, and power. We must, however cling to the boldness of Psalm 107:1, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

The storms of life are not beyond God’s authority (v. 29).

In Luke 8:24 we find the occasion when Jesus calmed the raging sea as a demonstration of His deity and command over creation. Just as the weather rests under God’s authority, the trials of your life are also under the sovereign control of God. The book of Job allows us to gain a brief view of God’s interaction with Satan before Job is tested. Job’s trials were under the authority of God from the onset of his testing. From Job’s hardships we learn three valuable lessons: first, trouble is to be expected. Christians were never promised and exemption from life’s storms. Because we live in a fallen world trouble is to be anticipated. This may sound like a pessimistic view of the world, but it’s a realistic one. We live in a world where we sin, others sin against us, and all of creation is tainted because of Adam’s sin. Second, trouble is always under God’s sovereign control and authority. Even the godliest saints in the Bible experienced trouble (e.g., Job). The church located in Smyrna was facing persecution, but their trouble would be limited in duration and degree by God (Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”). Third, trouble is for our spiritual growth. Over the last month I have met many people who are praising God for the trials and trouble caused by Hurricane Florence. These people are able to offer praise to the Lord because of what God has accomplished through the difficulties. Trouble is never fun, but God always uses it for our good.

The storms of life are an opportunity to find rest in God (v. 30).

We all crave relief from life’s trials. Our weary souls long to experience lasting peace and rest. In Psalm 107:30 we find that once the troubled waters were settled, God led his people to the haven they longed for. A “haven” is a place of safety or refuge. This is a place of retreat, shelter, or asylum. A haven is like a harbor located in an inlet to provide shelter for ships or boats from the waves and wind. Whether God calms the turbulent waters of your life or not you can find rest and protection in the haven of rest provided by your gracious heavenly father. This haven of rest is available to you right now. While you cannot control what storms enter your life, you can control your response to these difficulties. You don’t have to live overwhelmed and confused. You can trust Christ or you can sail through the troubles waters of life alone. You can experience the soul rest you desire if you seek the loving arms of your savior or you can stay in the deep waters and drown spiritually and emotionally. There is a haven of rest waiting for you right now. Enter into this place of refuge, drop your anchor, and enjoy the peace of God that truly does surpass all human understanding. Your conscious awareness of Christ’s presence in your life is what stabilizes your soul during the storms of life.

“The Haven of Rest” is a song published by songwriter Henry Gilmour in 1890. Reflect on these words, and contemplate the truths found in Psalm 107. Gilmour writes:

My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea,

So burdened with sin and distressed,

Till I heard a sweet voice, saying, “Make Me your choice”;

And I entered the “Haven of Rest”!

Oh, come to the Savior, He patiently waits

To save by His power divine;

Come, anchor your soul in the “Haven of Rest,”

And say, “My Beloved is mine.”

I’ve anchored my soul in the “Haven of Rest,”

I’ll sail the wide seas no more;

The tempest may sweep over wild, stormy, deep,

In Jesus I’m safe evermore.

Have you anchored your soul in the haven of rest? Is your life anchored in Christ alone?

Jay Knolls