One of the most difficult things to do in times of trouble is to remain calm. The majority of us tend to panic and we do things that should not have been done. This is in spite of the fact that we not only profess to have faith in God, but actually believe that God is with us. But can we fault those who panic? Not at all! Even the disciples had the same experience. When they were in a boat which was being battered by the big waves, they went to Jesus who was sleeping in the stern and cried out, “‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ Quickly, Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and the waves saying, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:38-39).
When they were at their wits’ end the disciples lost their faith. Fear overwhelmed them that Jesus had to rebuke them saying, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Certainly, Jesus knew what was happening to the boat but allowed it to happen anyway to test the disciples’ faith. While they appeared to have failed the test, Jesus did not leave them in panic mode. Rather, he rebuked the wind and the waves and they became still… and so with the spirit of the disciple. But what does it require to be still?
Stay quiet. When we are in a situation similar to that of the disciples, where our own lives are threatened, we let our fears prevail. Rather than calming our spirit and those who are with us, we make noise and utter words that trigger panic. Often, we even utter words that negate our faith, and we sin in the process. Desiring to be pleasing before God, King David said, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Indeed, our words can spell the difference – whether we can overcome our challenge or not. Remember the words of the ten spies that explored the Promised Land? They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13:32-33). These words caused the Israelites to panic and they refused to enter the Promised Land.
Turn your eyes upon God. When you know that you are alone, it is easy to be terrified because there is no one to help you. However, King David said, “But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge–do not give me over to death. Keep me from the snares they have laid for me, from the traps set by evildoers” (Psalm 141:8-9). The basis of King David’s confidence was properly articulated by the apostle Paul when he said, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Indeed, if God is with us, who can be against us?
Instill faith in your heart. When we do not fully understand our situation, it helps to put our faith in God. We should be like the disciples that sought the help of the Lord. Because they could not fully grasp the reasoning why they needed to forgive their brothers repeatedly, even up to seven times in a day, they said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” But how much faith do we really need to handle our issues in life? Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you” (Luke 17:5-6). Unless we have faith in God, it is impossible to experience his grace as manifested in signs, wonders and miracles. We are told: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Listen up. When we are in trouble, we tend to talk more instead of spending time listening. The apostle James said, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19). So as not to complicate our situation by talking more, we need to hone our listening skills. There will be a lot of voices that we hear as we face our problems but let us discern the voice that comes from the Lord and listen to him. He said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Learn your lesson. As we ponder on what to do with our situation, we should be more open to the Lord and learn from our challenges. This learning process was emphasized by Jesus when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Many of our sufferings are meant to teach us a lesson. King David said, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71). Unless we are able to learn our lesson, we will be like dogs. King Solomon said, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Prov. 26:11). Hallelujah!