It’s always easy to say God is with us when things are going well. But many struggle to sense God’s presence when they’re hurting. We sing “God on the Mountains”, reminding ourselves that God is with us when times are good and when we’re walking through the valleys, the wilderness and the storms of life.
Last week, many watched the news reports of the snowfall in New York. It unexpectedly dropped up to 6 feet (182 CM) in some places. Several people died as a result of the storm. People weren’t expecting that amount, they didn’t know what to expect; unlike other storms that batter the countryside, it was not given a name. Many of us have been in a storm, are in a storm, or are anticipating the next storm. Maybe you’re in a storm right now that you would like to name. Maybe it’s a storm named divorce. Maybe it’s a storm called, money or it’s called a career. Maybe it’s friendship. Maybe loneliness. Maybe grief or addictions, kids, in-laws, friends. Maybe it’s a storm called cancer.
In the midst of our storm, some wonder where God is in these struggles. Why is He allowing this to happen? We usually don’t understand, and even if we’re the cause of our storm, it still doesn’t seem fair or right. Yet, God is there. He’s always there in the midst of the storm. We must not allow the presence of a storm to cause us to doubt the presence of God.
Acts 27 contains the story of Paul being transported to Rome. During the journey, there was a massive storm at sea which seem to go on and on. The crew was so terrified that they threw the cargo overboard, believing they were about to die. They had given up hope.
Have you been there? Have you given up all hope? Is it finances that are killing you, and you see no hope? Maybe there’s a wedge between you and your spouse or your family and you can’t see any hope. Maybe it was a medical diagnosis. Maybe it’s a job, it’s the kids, and it’s getting older and becoming more dependent. Whatever it is, just like those sailors, you’ve given up all hope!
Paul calls on the crew to have a positive spirit and to have good courage. He was reassured by an Angel that there would be no loss of life. We will have trouble, but Jesus promises us that He will be with us and on top of that, He has overcome the world. (John 16:33).
In the midst of our storms, God is our hiding place. He is our refuge and our strength. He is always ready, willing and able to help us in times of trouble. Why? Because He is Immanuel. He is God with us. Be courageous. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be defeated. Don’t give up hope! Because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go! His Spirit is with you. Jesus is with you. God is with you yesterday, today and forever. He is listening to your prayers. When you recognize that even though you’re in the presence of a storm, the Lord is with you it changes how you ride out the storm. You will have peace.
That is why you never let the presence of a storm cause you to doubt the presence of God. True peace is not found in the absence of trials and storms. True peace is found in the presence of Immanuel – God with us.