“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” (Ephesians 3:18 NLT)
When my then sixteen-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia, can you imagine my first response? Unbelief (I couldn’t believe what my ears were hearing), followed shortly thereafter by lots of fear. Why? Where was my faith? I was a pastor, supposedly “filled with faith,” yet in those moments of terror my heart and mind were more focused on the “storm” my son was facing and my fear of his impending death, than the God who has authority over every storm.
I’m grateful He didn’t, but the Lord Jesus could have asked me, as He asked the disciples on that stormy lake, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NLT) But had He asked, in my mind’s eye I think I would have responded, “My son’s life is on the line, of course I’m afraid, but what does my faith have to do with that?” And though I may not have been able to see it then, as the disciples in that boat very likely couldn’t make the connection, I can see today with crystal clarity, my faith has EVERYTHING to do with it. Why? How so?
Because every step of progress we make on our journey with Jesus is taken by faith. Our journey begins by faith, develops by faith and will one day end by faith. And every “storm” we face has only one purpose – to build our faith. Why? To enable us to see Jesus more clearly (“Who is this man?”– Mark 4:41 NLT) so that we may follow Him more closely, understanding that when He is present, fear has no place in our heart or mind.
Fear negates faith. When we’re filled with fear we eliminate our capacity to have faith. Does that mean we should never fear? Of course not. Fear can be a legitimate and needed response in certain circumstances. But even then, if we’re paralyzed by fear, it will actually add to, not help us to resolve the problem.
When the disciples had reached the limits of their knowledge and ability; in other words, when they had reached the end of themselves and their ability to save themselves, they turned to Jesus. And regardless of their expectations and in spite of their fear, Jesus responded, the storm subsided and the disciples’ lives were saved.
Do you think the disciples’ faith was stretched that day? I believe it was, just as my faith was stretched through the three plus years my son endured chemo and radiation treatments. To what end was the disciples’ faith stretched? Of those original twelve disciples, with the exception of Judas, who betrayed Jesus and subsequently took his own life, and John, who died in exile because of his faith in Jesus, every other of the original twelve died a martyr’s death.
Do you think they ever feared again? Of course they did, but they didn’t allow their fear to overshadow their faith. And when the day came for each of them, as it will for each of us, to decide who will rule their lives – fear or faith; themselves or Jesus – they chose faith, they chose Jesus. It ultimately cost them their lives, but they deemed their life a small price to pay for their great expectation of an eternity with Him in heaven.
What do you expect? When the storms of life come, and they will, who will you turn to for help? And what will your expectation be? Simply to have the Lord “save” you from the immediate circumstance? Or to allow Him to build life-changing faith in you?
My prayer for myself and for you, is as Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT) for the Ephesian believers: “…that from His glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Blessings, Ed 😊