Mike Gerhardt, 01-10-21 Peace in the Storm Outline 17. The Lesson today: each crisis needs a surge of faith. My three sons & I went down the Penobscot River in Maine in a 400 lb raft. The first rapid was long & dangerous since it was a dam release. The massive raging water squeezed through two granite walls, making an interesting first rapid, called the Exterminator. Trevor was first to wash out, but he had mind enough to grab the safety line around the raft and pull himself in. I wasn’t so alert. Fear gripped me as I went over the next three waterfalls and bounced off the bottom being forced under by the pounding waves. I realized at one point that I may not survive and was glad I showed Brandon where the car keys were so they could get home.
This leads to some good news and some bad news. Bad news first: it is possible to be scared to death. Extreme fear can cause sudden cardiac death. The terrorized brain triggers the release of a very potent mix of chemicals that can cause the heart to contract so fiercely that it never relaxes again. Robert Kloner, a cardiologist, studied the 1994 LA Northridge earthquake. He found over 100 of the fatalities were from sheer fright. Charles Hirsch, chief medical officer for NYC, after a study, found 15 assault victims, died by mortal fear, though their wounds were far from fatal. NOW the good news: The Bible states that perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. God’s cure for fear is perfect love, the love of Jesus in our hearts, protecting us from fear. Each crisis does not need a surge of chemicals that can cause a cardiac arrest but a surge of faith that can cause an overwhelming peace. Read John 6:16-21. There were two times when Jesus calmed the raging storm while the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. Maybe they needed reinforcement of Jesus’ power. How do you handle fearful events: do you fall apart like coffeecake, crumble like a stale cracker, melt like butter in the microwave? Coal under pressure turns into a diamond. Steel under heat becomes tempered and strong. Men and women under pressure with God’s grace produced courage. We can realize our faith in Christ’s protection, faith in Christ’s presence, and faith in Christ’s power. The parallel passage is Mark 6:45-52; read this passage. Jesus fed 10,000, they tried to make him King and he refused. He dismissed the crowd, sent his disciples to the other side, and climbed a mountain to pray. If he could make bread and fish out of a few morsels, then he could probably make lots of money. Jesus went to pray alone to ask the Father to protect him from the temptation to be King without being Savior. God is more active in protecting us from sin than he is protecting us from danger. There are Biblical accounts of how God allowed his people to face danger, even death, and did not deliver them. We can and should face danger with confidence. We often try to avoid all kinds of perceived danger. Some live in a fantasy world and believe that God will keep them from all suffering, pain, and sickness. Too many live with color catalog wishing, soap opera thinking, silver screen dreaming, and lotto winning languishing. We must get back to reality. This world is broken. There are dangers all around. Don’t read into circumstances, especially bad ones, as if they are messages from God. God has a plan for you, but it is found by reading the Word, not circumstances. Do we lock ourselves into our house and never go out? We must live wisely and with caution but not with fear. We are to boldly go where God wants us to go. Evan Evans, an IW, once shared what he, his wife, and four beautiful daughters experienced at the school in Ivory Coast when it was taken over by insurgents and there were bullets flying everywhere as their children hid under their desks. They had developed a theology of risk. And after a year, they went back to those dangerous conditions again to serve God’s Kingdom in Senegal. Jewel, Evan’s wife, reasoned the safest placed to be on the earth was in the will of God. The most unsafe place to be is when you are out of the will of God. Bad things happen around us because we live in a broken world. Dave Linn said at DEXCOM (according to his read on scripture): The world is broken, and God is not going to fix it. Instead, God desires to save the souls of lost people. Bad stuff happens and will happen again. It won’t change until we are all delivered from this planet. Yet we are to rejoice always, no matter what happens. When the storms of life come, remember that Jesus is here. We must have faith in Christ’s presence. We think no one cares, no one sees my pain, no one understands but that’s where we are wrong. Jesus is always with us. In Mark, it says that Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars. He knew their condition. He knew their desperation. He went out to them in the middle of the night. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus is your biggest fan. He wants you to win. He is there always to help you with every difficulty. We often pray to Jesus to take away this circumstance, take away this pain, take away my boss! Maybe Jesus has a better plan to help you thrive in your circumstance, live with your pain, tolerate your boss, and serve His Kingdom. Maybe we should pray for strength to get us through the pain, courage to face the stress, wisdom to navigate the circumstances. Pray for more of Jesus. Our faith is being tested each time something goes wrong not when it goes right. How we develop faith in Christ’s power, isn’t when everything goes right. God wants us to have opportunities to learn to depend on him. We must begin to understand how God works through the crisis. Understand God’s power and demonstrate confidence. Understand God’s grace and demonstrate peace. Understand God’s love and demonstrate respect for self and others. Understand God’s mercy and demonstrate forgiveness. Courage is a virtue just like grace. God’s grace can be appreciated and understood in the context of sin and judgment. Courage for living can be appreciated and understood in the context of crisis and danger. As believers, I think we are getting a little soft. We have so many excuses not to become involved in another person’s crisis, not to make a call, not to take someone a meal. It is time for courage. In Foxes Book of Martyrs, you will read about Servetus who was willing to be burned at the stake for the difference between, Christ the eternal Son of God, and Christ, the son of the eternal God. The one he would confess the other he would rather die than confess. Just for your own edification, we believe in Christ the eternal Son of God. A readied heart is strengthened by the Spirit in faith. If you lack courage you may likely lack faith. Salvation brings peace which yields the fruit of courage.