This week, six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area are government-ordered to “shelter in place.” For the next three weeks, we will be hunkering down at home in an attempt to slow down the spread of the novel Covid-19 virus. Amid health concerns, the economy is also taking a hit. The stock market is falling, and last night’s news hinted at the possibility of a recession. These are uncertain times.
It’s not unlike an unpredictable storm. I’ve always loved this image of a man standing on the deck of a lighthouse in the midst of an incredible sea storm getting pounded by powerful waves and seeming to be quite calm. He appears to have his hand in his pocket. How is it that he can remain non-plussed while experiencing such a terrific battering of his shelter? I would imagine he has confident trust in the structure of the lighthouse.
What is it that you lean into when storms are circling around you, threatening your livelihood or life? For me, it is so good to remember that Jesus specializes in storms.
- When the disciples huddled together in fear while water was filling their boat due to a fierce storm that had come up on the Sea of Galilee, they woke Jesus who was sleeping and He “rebuked the wind and raging waves.” The storm stopped and the disciples were “terrified and amazed.” (Luke 8:22-25)
- When Jesus tells the disciples that he will be leaving them, that he will be betrayed, a storm begins to brew in their hearts. They are anxious and afraid. Jesus tells them two things to calm them: he will return for them and he is leaving them an incredible gift- His unfathomable peace. “I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give you is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 15:27)
- Again, when the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee, another storm came up and Jesus comes from shore walking on the water and again they were terrified, thinking he was a ghost. Jesus reassures them that it is he and says, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” He even invites Peter to join him on the water. He became terrified when he saw the strong wind and waves about him, and Jesus reached out and grabbed him. Jesus challenged him for his doubt, his lack of faith. When they got into the boat the wind calmed.
I think Jesus wants us to know that in all we are currently experiencing, He is with us. He is our lighthouse in the storm. He doesn’t promise we won’t catch the virus, but he does promise to be in it with us and he does have power over the circumstances of our lives. When we are trying to bail out our own boat, when we overstock our own shelves to provide us security in our storm, we will continue to run anxious. No Costco run will offer us peace. When we focus only on the waves around us, we will sink into worry. When we trust that He is present, He cares, and He is good, we can receive the peace he promises in the midst of the hardest times of our lives.
What can you do?
- Visualize. When you find yourself becoming disturbed by the circumstances around you, bring to mind the image of Jesus raising his arm and stilling your storm.
- Trust. Trust that your God is bigger than the circumstance. Trust the structure that is guarding you from the pounding waves of uncertainty. Trust his goodness. Receive his peace. Read Matthew 7:9-11.
- Set your mind on the good. Play uplifting music, do something generous for another, call a friend just to encourage them. If there’s a senior in your neighborhood, offer to bring them groceries on your next outing.
Jesus called it: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33