Peace in the Storm- Summary

I have had my own storms in life, and doing this study helped me process those experiences. It has been about a year since the most intense storm was finally dispelled, and I am grateful to be in the calm now. I will certainly enjoy this reprieve, but I am not so naive as to think that I will never have a trial again.

I do not know which challenges still lay ahead, I only know that they are out there and that they will be truly difficult. In fact I know that they will exceed me, and that the only way through them will be to rely on my Savior.

For me this study was about both looking back towards past storms and forward to next ones, using my bubble of peace to see things clearly while I can. In this study there were three main themes that I hope to remember the next time I’m surrounded by wind and rain.

All are subject to storms

We are not spared the trials of life by being faithful. Nor are we spared the trials of life by giving in to the world. I have heard both of these fictions preached, and each is meant to dissuade one’s faith.
The quietly content saint still has to face the realities of loss and death, and the prospering hedonist still has to face the anguish of a dissatisfied conscience. Everyone loses things, no matter what other comforts they have. Everyone dies, no matter what well-being they have enjoyed. Even the Son of God was not free from suffering.
Some storms can be avoided, and we’re certainly justified in sailing around the ones that we can. But some storms simply have to be gone through, and it doesn’t do one any good to deny it.
Matthew 27:46- And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

God Supports us…and lets us stand alone

Perhaps the most common mistake we make when we ride into a storm is to try and fix it ourselves. We have this stupid pride that makes us feel that this is our problem, so we have to solve it alone. Or perhaps we feel embarrassed because we willfully steered ourselves into this problem, so we don’t feel worthy of receiving aid. Either way, we deny the aid of God, and also of the friends that he sends along our way.
Frankly God doesn’t care about either your pride or your guilt. Those simply do not matter to Him when there is a child that needs saving. So why not ask if this storm can be removed? And if it cannot be removed, why not ask if it can be lightened?
But how should you feel if you do ask for help and it isn’t given? Because sometimes God doesn’t intervene, or at least not in ways that we can recognize. Sometimes He leaves you to stand on our own. In this moment remember that He is leaving you to stand on your own, not to be broken on your own. He only withdraws when He knows you have the strength to ride this one out solo. His absence is His vote of confidence in you.
Matthew 23:37- How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
2 Corinthians 4:8-9- We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Our goal is to quiet the storm within

We have to make peace with the fact that many things in this world are beyond our control. Bad things will happen to us and those we love, and we will not be able to prevent it. Even with God’s help, some things will remain out of our control.
At least so it is for storms external. For the storms within, though, these can be controlled. We can live in perfect tranquility, never mind the raging all around. How is this possible? Well, by ourselves it isn’t. To achieve this state of peace we have to have help from a being that both has the power of a God, but also the humanity of a man.
For this reason Jesus Christ was sent to endure, and defeat, all worldly pain. His great sacrifice does not take the evil out of the world (not yet, anyway). But what it does do is take the evil out of our hearts. Truly we say that he overcame the world, but we do not see that victory universally. For now the manifestation of it is only localized within individuals.
Alma 7:12- And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
John 16:33- In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Peace in the Storm- Matthew 14:29-30, John 16:33

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

COMMENTARY

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and began to sink
In the world ye shall have tribulation
Storms exist, they really do. Sometimes we make up pretend afflictions in our own heads, but even if we had the best of attitudes we still would have more than enough real troubles. Overcoming the world, therefore, is not simply a case of mind over matter.
Jesus, himself, attested that in this world we would have tribulation. It is unavoidable, because each of us is necessarily tied to a body that is subject to the world.

And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus
And so we do not deny the presence of life’s storm, we only deny them power to control us. They might be able to affect the body, but we decide whether they gain access to the soul.
The storm was already raging when Peter stepped out into the water, but he overcame it by asserting that there was a higher power than it. Then he faltered and began to regard the storm more than his Savior. It was only then that the storm was able to claim him.

But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world
The problem with “mind over matter” is that it still tries to put the storm-defying power in us. I can clench my fists and grit my teeth and tell myself that I don’t feel the storm, but it won’t work. I’ll only exhaust myself and still be swept away. Have I overcome the world? No, only Christ has. Peter was not being sustained not by his mastery of the storm, only by Christ’s.
So forget about “mind over matter,” the correct mantra for overcoming our trials is “Christ over matter.”

Peace in the Storm- Job 23:1-3, 5, 8-9; 42:1, 5

Then Job answered and said,
Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!
I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.
Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

COMMENTARY

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him
We have considered the fact that sometimes God’s support of us is invisible, and we feel that we are facing the storms of life alone. Job had such a moment. All that he loved was taken from him, and he was not given the reason why. In the quoted passage above he expresses his intense desire to find God, just so that he can understand what’s going on. But for a long while God does not answer his pleas. He is nowhere to be found. Thus to all Job’s worldly pain, there is now added the spiritual anguish of perceived abandonment.
Then comes the temptation. Job’s friends not only reject and condemn him, they urge him to curse God and die. Though their words sting him, he holds strong. And this, I know, is the reason why God sometimes appears to be absent in our lives. Sometimes we have to know that we will do the right thing, simply because it is the right thing. What we choose when we don’t feel God peering over our shoulder reveals to us our truest nature.

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee
In the end, Job emerged from his trial with a deeper, more intimate perception of God than ever before. He describes it as the difference between only hearing something, and now actually seeing it. By experiencing God’s withdrawal, he was able to then have a greater closeness to Him.
When God withdraws His presence, it creates a vacuum where we are able to see our own light, and recognize that it is the same as His. Or in other words, sometimes God steps back from around us so that we can discover Him within us.

Peace in the Storm- Mark 4:37-39, Matthew 27:46

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

COMMENTARY

Carest thou not that we perish?
It can be difficult for us to speak about moments of faithlessness. We know that we are supposed to hold out hope no matter what storms arise, but frankly there are times where that seems an impossible thing to do.
Ryan Green, who chronicled the experience of losing his son in the interactive story That Dragon, Cancer, spoke about such a moment of doubt in his own life. He pointed to this same plea of the disciples when they woke Jesus during the storm. Their question was not whether Jesus could save them, it was whether he would. Ryan expressed that he always believed God had the power to save his son, but was not sure that God cared to. He didn’t question that God saw his suffering, only if God was going to do anything about it.
Sometimes it isn’t the actual storm that hurts us as much as the sense of God’s abandonment.

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Perhaps the Lord appeared to be “sleeping” on the imminent threat that faced his disciples…but he was still with them. Carest thou not that “we” perish is an inclusive “we,” for if the boat had gone down he would have been going with it, too!
Yes, sometimes we do feel alone, abandoned by God. Jesus experienced this, too, while dying on the cross. Whenever we feel totally alone, Christ sits totally alone with us. We cannot feel his presence, because that would break the necessary illusion, but his presence is still there.
Speaking for myself, that means a lot. Sometimes I wish that my trials could be taken from me, but if they can’t, I just need to know that someone is sitting with me in the hurt. I must remember that at times God asks me to suffer the appearance of His absence, but never the actuality of it. He permits me to feel alone, but never does He ask me to actually be alone.

Peace in the Storm- 1 Nephi 8:10-11, 21-24

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

COMMENTARY

And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness, insomuch that they did lose their way and were lost.
Storms in nature can be frightening due to the immediate threats of lightning, flooding, and windswept debris. However there is another danger in them, that of pervasive darkness. This blinding can make us lose our bearings and become hopelessly lost. Each one of us experiences these blinding mists in our spiritual lives as well.
And I do mean each of us. Dark clouds are not reserved for the faithless, they fall upon disciples as well. Even if we accept God’s laws we can still struggle with vices; temptations that constantly pull at us, even though we truly want to be good.
Even if we have the hope of Christ in us we can still be overwhelmed by depression; thrust into fear and despair, even though we only want to live in joy.
Even if we fervently believe in God’s goodness we can still wrestle with doubts; moments where we question that the unseen can really be true, even though we only want to remain faithful.
Even Mother Teresa divulged that for a period of fifty years she suffered a feeling of withdrawal from God. She believed in him fiercely, but still the clouds of doubt and depression fell about her.

And caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and did press forward through the mist of darkness, until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
First, one should not be ashamed that the darkness which falls on all has fallen on them, too. After that, one should realize that pressing forward in the dark is progress…even when it does not feel like it. So long as we continue pushing forward, we are nearing our goal. And so when we do at last burst out of that darkness, the light of God’s presence will be far closer than we ever saw it before.

Peace in the Storm- 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, Alma 7:12

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

COMMENTARY

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
By definition, the most common storms we face will be the usual afflictions of life: sickness, death, betrayal, doubt, pain, wars, misunderstanding, ignorance, and vice. No matter our lifestyle these are unavoidable.As Paul himself describes in these verses, we are troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down.
But Paul also asserts that we can be all of these things, yet still not overcome. We can be buffeted by the storm, but not overwhelmed by it. That sounds very encouraging. If the storm cannot be removed entirely, at least it can be limited from swamping us entirely. But hearing this promise one naturally has to ask “but why? And how?”

Always bearing the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our body
And he will take upon him their infirmities, that he may know how to succor his people according to their infirmities

Paul anticipates that question, and in his very next verse points to the dying sacrifice of Jesus which buoys us up in life. It is that alone which holds the storms of life at a manageable level.
Thus if we were abandoned in this fallen world then these storms would overwhelm us. We might stand against them for a time, but eventually we would break and succumb. Each of us would become jaded, cynical, and faithless.
But for those that will accept his help, Jesus planted himself in that exact same storm alongside of us. He knows how the waves hit, and he knows how to bolster us where we would otherwise fall. The storm does have the power to destroy us, but it does not have the power to destroy us and Christ together.

Peace in the Storm- Ephesians 4:31-32, Matthew 5:39, 1 Peter 3:9

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

COMMENTARY

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and evil speaking, be put away from you
There are many who criticize and condemn those that are religious. They call us naive and brainwashed. They accuse of us being hypocrites, teeming with repressed sins even as we condemn others. Some even call for violence against us.
This creates a very real storm of prejudice and mockery around us. There is no shame in saying that one feels affected by these attacks. One feels hurt by actions that are hurtful, that is obvious and natural.
Also natural is the desire to respond in kind. Many that are religious therefore rush to bash their attackers right back, to rage a storm of their own that will drown out all the others.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another
Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing

If we respond to the buffeting of the world in kind, what then is different between us and the world? If we become just as impolite and heartless as the faithless, then what good did our faith do us? There is a strong irony if one preaches love, but is quick to hate anyone that calls them a hypocrite.
Religion only has a leg to stand on if it advocates a different way. Christ’s injunction to turn the other cheek is not only nice, it is essential.
Truly we prove the reality of Jesus by allowing the storm to rage outside, but remaining tranquil and loving within.