When The Winds Are Against You

Recorded in the Gospel of Mark is the incident where Jesus has sent his disciples across the lake to Bethsaida. (Mark 6:45-47) After going up the mountain to pray for a few hours, this scene is listed as part of the record.

It is there in verse 48: “And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.”

A suggestively loaded phrase “the wind was against them.” We know about that, don’t
we? Not just out at sea in a squall, but in the whole of life. Not much time passes in any of our lives when we don’t feel that the winds are against us.

Here is a student who is just not making it in college. As exams begin to come around, he is more and more disturbed and feels that perhaps the best thing for him would be to cut and run. He doesn’t have any plan, but he feels distressed in rowing. The pressure he is under and the sense of his own importance is the wind that is against him.

Or here is a couple whose marriage has gone sour. They started out together long ago, but they have moved farther and farther apart, almost without noticing it. Now it is as though they are living in two separate worlds. They wake up one day and find that they’ve lost touch with each other. They don’t know whether it is easier to go through the struggle of working their way back together again, or just to give up. They seem to run out of resources and they already feel defeated. The winds are against them.

How about a person who has just found that their job is being eliminated and the years they have put in at the company is ending and they feel the wind is against them.

Or a person who has just received disturbing medical news and they know they are facing a long period of rehabilitation and maybe disability – they winds are against them.

Do these illustrations strike a familiar cord? Would you like to add your own situation to the list? Most of us could, couldn’t we? We know about rowing the sea of life when the winds are against us.

What must we know when the winds are against us?

One, realize everybody hurts. Now I’m not being trite, nor would I seek to evade the
depth of suffering so many know. But I think it is important, for perspective sake to begin at this point, Everybody hurts.

Where did the myth come from anyway? — the myth that if we were just Christian
enough, or disciplined enough, or spiritual enough, or religious enough — that life’s troubles would pass us by? This just isn’t so, and certainly scripture refutes it. The witness of the scripture over and over again, is that the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. None of us are promised deliverance from the pain and problems of life. So, everybody hurts.

Secondly, It helps, from the beginning, to remember that we are human, not super-
human. To be human, by definition, means to have limits on our life.

No matter how much strength we have, no matter how practiced at oars we may be
sometimes the winds and the waves are too much, and we’re going to know distress in
our rowing.

Admit that. Let it be a part of the way you approach life. We’re human, thus limited.

Thirdly, having admitted your weakness that you’re not in control remember God is. God is in control, and God is not going to abandon us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, arrested by the Gestapo, put in
prison, later executed for his part in the conspiracy against Hitler. While in prison he wrote letters and notes to his family and his friends, especially to Eberhard Bethge, his closest friend. His sisters and sympathetic guards smuggled these notes out of prison, and Bethge collected them, buried them in the back yard, for safe keeping until the end of the war, and then published them as Letters and Notes From Prison. One of those notes read, “I believe that God will give us all the strength that we need to help resist in times of distress, but he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not Him alone.”

We need to remember that. God is in control, and God is not going to abandon us. But
God has a time-table that may not be ours. Mark wants us to know that. He and the other Gospel writers record the story of Jesus and the storm at sea to reveal who Jesus really is. He is “the only son of God the Father Almighty, the maker of Heaven and Earth.” In other words, He owns the place. He’s in charge, and we need to believe that.

Finally, hang on to the word of Jesus in our scripture, “Take heart, it is I have no fear.”

Don’t hold on to your emotion; hold on to Jesus. An educated person is not one who
knows the answer, but where the answers can be found. A Christian is not one who can
make it on her own, but who knows the One in whom we can do all things, because He
gives us strength.

When Augustine was writing about this incident, he said, “He came treading the waves; and so he puts all the swelling tumults of life under his feet. Christians —— why afraid?” It is the simple fact of life, a fact which has been proven by countless thousands of men and women in every generation, that when Christ is there, the storm becomes a calm, the tumult becomes a peace, the undoable becomes doable. The unbearable becomes bearable, and persons pass through the breaking point and do not break. (William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, The Daily Bible Study p. 163).

So hang on to Jesus, as with the disciples. He sees when the winds are against us. He comes and speaks his unyielding word. “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”