Over the last few months, Chris and I have witnessed many people who have been hit with suffering and hardship.
Like holes in a ship, the hardships of life sink our very life vessels. Our own children, close friends and family members surround us with trials. We ourselves are not immune to trials, and sometimes, even though our faith should be big, we clench life with white knuckles as the trials come and go. Sin. Not just our sin, but sometimes other people’s sin - it Wrecks us.
Some ships sink because of the holes we impute on ourselves and other holes from an attack by someone else. This suffering has wreckage floating on top of the water. We often forget the wreckage of cargo that floats on-top-of the water when a ship goes down. It’s messy. It reminds us of the chaotic disaster we see on the news after a tornado or hurricane goes through a town, which leaves behind a disaster trail in its path. Our life feels that way at times. That trail is the mess that floats on the water as our vessel/ship (our life) sinks.
Why does God “allow” His children to get holes in their ship? Why does our life get so messy? Would it be a Jonah moment? Would it be a Job moment?
Jonah- Disobedient to God, Jonah, chose not to go to Nineveh. He got in trouble with a storm and a big fish, he sat in the stinky belly of a whale/big fish for 3 days. Then Jonah promised God he would to go to Nineveh. With much more to the story, the suffering/fear of the storm and being in the belly of a fish came from his disobedience to God. Ultimately, he sinned and his consequence was hardship. Jonah never really did have a joyful heart even when seeing the city of Nineveh share in God’s redemptive work.
Job- His long-suffering, to this day, still tricky for me to understand fully. None-the-less, not being able to understand it fully and trust God at the same time and see God’s faithful love over Job’s obedience helps me grow in my faith and obedience. Job, a blameless man, suffered the loss of everything including: children, livestock, his wife’s support, his true friends, and became covered in boils. He was covered in physical sores so much that he was scraping them with clay rocks to relieve the pain. Job stayed obedient. In the end, God blessed Job with more than he had before.
Whether the holes sink our life vessels/ ships from disobedience or an attack from someone else’s disobedience, that is God’s Truth to know and our own humbling to find out then or later. One thing we can be certain of is God is making HIMSELF KNOWN. He will be made known in our trials. He never leaves or looks away when we stand in this dreadful valley and cry... “Lord, Help now!”
When ships sink the cargo is sometimes our mess that is exposed. God will clean all that up. He will. He does. It’s painful, embarrassing, hurtful. Ugh the waiting... We want the mess to disappear NOW! Nothing we go through is outside the depth of what Christ endured in His suffering.
A quote by an old Puritan, which I feel is hyperbolic language here, but laced in truth....said,
“A humble man can never truly be humiliated.”
This makes me think of the man who we should look for and who is the most humble for strength. Christ Jesus...
Philippians 2 says: “Jesus Christ” ... “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” To sum this up, Jesus being God, didn’t get on his high-horse and stop any hardship just because He was so high and mighty. He endured suffering like us and was the best at dealing with it humbly- even onto death.
In the Bible, Apostle Peter teaches about sinking ships!! While his boat didn’t sink. He himself did, more than one time.
In Matthew 14, Jesus allowed Peter to sink. Why? —> So that it bettered his faith in the one who SAVED him? To better the faith of those around him? Spiritually and physically in this moment we learn so much about the moment between Peter and Jesus and those who witnessed the scene.
Peter was in a storm, just as we have life storms.. Jesus came to the rescue. But, remember this.... Peter wasn’t lost. He walked with the Lord. Peter already gave his life to follow Jesus. He had witnessed miracles, he was just with Jesus when they fed the 5,000 (the miracle of the two fish and five loaves). None-the-less, that night, Peter, along with others, were on his boat in a storm. They were not with Jesus, but Jesus was coming to them as the storm was roaring... Jesus walked on water to them. Peter and the others were frightened in the storm. When Peter saw Jesus walking on water, he thought Jesus was a ghost coming toward him.
Peter’s thoughts: How could he walk on water like that.. ιт'ѕ a goнѕт?
Our thoughts today: How is Jesus going to rescue us from this hardship?
Jesus told the men in the boat, (Matthew 14:27). “Take COURAGE,” “Don’t be afraid!” Peter still cannot believe in this moment. Peter said, “Lord if it is you, tell me to come on the water.”
Do we ever tell Jesus what to do? Most certainly we do (even though we shouldn’t), and Jesus having Grace took Peter’s request more as a question of help (He’s such a loving God). Jesus said, “Come!” Peter got out of the boat... he started to walk on water and when he saw the wind (another life trial), he began to sink. He was afraid. “Lord, save me,” “He cried!” and immediately Jesus saved him.
Check this out: God’s WORD SAYS Immediately!!
Do you know how profound that word is? “Immediately”... Jesus stuck out His hand and caught Peter. If we call on Jesus. Immediately He saves us!! Maybe not in the way we want to be saved. Perhaps, Peter wanted Jesus to time-warp him to the shore. That’s not what Jesus did. Jesus did it HIS way. .... for a reason.
Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Peter’s doubt made him sink, showing Peter needed to draw closer to Jesus.
And, this is an amazing part of the true story.... When they (Jesus and Peter) climbed in the boat.....the wind died down! ....Those who were there in the boat worshiped, saying, “Truly you are the Son of man.” (Vs 33/34).
Do we see here that people are looking on? They worshiped Jesus because of what they witnessed in the relationship between Jesus and Peter. Because of Peter’s little faith and hardship, and Jesus’ immediate response- the wind died down. The trust and faith we have in Jesus can can also make the wind (life trial) subside emotionally and physically. My favorite part is this: the people in the boat.... witnessed this and worshiped. People see you/us sinking and are being witnessed to by our life’s work (We are God’s Handiwork- Ephesians 2:10). Not only are we being advanced toward faith in Jesus Christ, who always rescues us, but we are shaping others around us who look on!! Perhaps, if Jesus did time warp Peter from his problems of fear and Peter didn’t climb back in the boat, the others watching wouldn’t have seen Jesus and Peter’s relationship of faith grow right in that moment.
Let me ask....Would we be okay with this? Suffering to advance the Kingdom. Could we endure fear to advance the Kingdom,
to bring others to know His goodness? Or, are we mad God does it His way and lets us suffer for the sake of His good?
Also, we may never know how we effect those around us until we sit before God. Not all who grow from our suffering will announce it. Not all who see our suffering and grow from it will thank you. Not all who witness your endurance and value you for your hardship will tell you. Not all who value you for your humility will share that with you. Sometimes others learn from our hardship inflicted by others and sometimes they learn from our own grave mistake and they will never tell us. BUT GOD KNOWS!
We know God’s Word tells us not all Kingdom work is going to be seen here on earth. Not all seeds that we plant- will we get the benefit of seeing on this side of heaven. But, one day, like this very day with Peter... he saw the fruit produced. We will one day see the Kingdom work when the wood, hay and stubble burn off.... We long for heaven so that we may see the works of righteousness that Jesus Christ does through us, to bring HIM Glory.
What a day that will be!!
Take courage. Do not fear. God is teaching, purifying the wreckage, strengthening faith, bringing people to Him, shaping us, it’s all done for His glory to advance His sovereign plan. In closing, here’s what I learned from God’s Word on why our ships sink:
•To let Christ be made known us
•To see God’s love for us (to see He rescues us). Immediately (maybe not the way we want though).
•To trust the Lord’s plan to grow us
•To trust this is advancing the Kingdom
•To allow our life to minister to others
•To know this is painful, but Jesus never looks away from us
•To know we are not loved any less
•To build our faith
•To understand the world that desperately needs Jesus.. (to obtain empathy/sympathy)
•To humble us
•To purify our motives
•To strip us of the world
•To see God’s sovereign plan