Living here in Florida we are well acquainted with storms. And it seems like they are happening more frequently than ever. What about the storms we face in our day to day lives? With the pandemic, our economy, and all of the unknowns it can seem like we are moving from one crisis to the next. One of the hardest things to do is to sit and be still and wait to hear from God when storms are brewing around and inside us.

In Mark there is a record of Jesus and His disciples going by boat to the other side of the lake. They are leaving the crowds behind, and Jesus falls asleep in the boat, taking time to rest after teaching and ministering to many. When the fierce storm comes up the disciples panic and rush to wake Jesus asking Him if He even cares that they are going to drown.

I can relate to the disciples here. There have been times I have just seen God do something wonderful and have experienced His great love. Yet in the next moment when the storm comes up, I have forgotten about God’s amazing power and love. I catch myself wondering if God even cares and am caught up in fear over the current crisis or storm.

When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence. Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm.

What a great visual. In the face of the storm and seeing the disciples fear and unbelief, Jesus responds with power to silence the roar of the wind and to calm the surging waves. What about the storms that rage inside of us, the times when we feel helpless and hopeless, and the fear feels overwhelming? Jesus has come to set us free. He is the living example of God’s power and perfect love. When we are struggling to sense His presence and to believe in His power, we can call out to Him and ask Him to help us, even in our unbelief.

There is a new translation that has really been bringing scripture alive for me. Here is Psalm 46 from the Passion Translation.

46 God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge!
You’re a proven help in time of trouble—
more than enough and always available whenever I need you.
So we will never fear
even if every structure of support were to crumble away.
We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes,
moving mountains and casting them into the sea.
For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves
cannot erode our faith in you.
Pause in His presence

8–9 Everyone look!
Come and see the breathtaking wonders of our God.
For he brings both ruin and revival.
He’s the One who makes conflicts end
throughout the earth,
breaking and burning every weapon of war.
10 Surrender your anxiety.
Be still and realize that I am God.
I am God above all the nations,
and I am exalted throughout the whole earth.
11 Here he stands!
The Commander!
The mighty Lord of Angel Armies is on our side!
The God of Jacob fights for us!
Pause in His presence”

As this psalm begins the writer is affirming his belief in who God is and reminding us of God’s constant presence and protection. Boldly he states that even the stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode his faith in God. The next phrase is “pause in His presence” This is what we need to do more of in our lives in order to calm our fears. Remind ourselves that God is with us and for us, and then pause and be aware of His presence.

Later the psalmist tells us to look at God’s wonders and recognize His power to end conflict and make things new. Seeing this we are encouraged to surrender our anxiety, to be still and realize who He is. Be still and know God. Know His love which never ends. Recognize His power and sovereign strength. This is something we need to practice every day.

Just as Jesus was able to calm the waves and silence the wind, He can do that for the storms in our lives. I am doing a 40 day devotional which has you sit in silence for 2 minutes as you begin and as you end, twice a day. This simple practice of silence has been so helpful in teaching me to look and listen intentionally for the Holy Spirit to speak. What a gift we have in having God’s Spirit living in us to remind us of all truth, to bring us comfort, and to lead us on God’s paths. Let me encourage each of you. Practice silence with God. Discipline yourself to listen and know God’s love. Then when the storms come you will be able to let the God who calms the waves and silences the storm speak to you and calm the storm in your heart.

May God bless you as you grow in knowing His great love, being aware of His presence and being able to surrender your fears to the One who can calm any storm.

Betsy O’Callaghan