By Sandra Julian Barker
I recently took my grandson to a local art museum. When I saw the oil painting pictured above, I was struck by the turbulence of the raging sea the artist had captured and the imminent peril of the two sailing ships as they plunged toward the rocks. It's a powerful scene by Dutch painter Willem van de Velde the Younger (ca 1690).
The scene reminds me of Isaiah 43:2 where God says, "When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm." I love that no matter how fierce the storm is in our life, God is right there beside us, ready to calm the sea at just the right time.
In Mark 4, there's a story about Jesus -- in a boat on a raging sea. His disciples were frantic, but Jesus merely looked out at the thrashing waves and howling wind, and said, "Peace, be still!" Scripture tells us, "And the wind ceased and there was a great calm" 4:39. Sometimes, Jesus calms the raging storm within you as soon as you ask Him to do so.
Other times, God keeps you safe as your ship runs aground and breaks into pieces, as He did for Paul near the Island of Malta. "...they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast...but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves...and so it was that they all escaped safely to land" Acts 27:41, 44. No doubt there was considerable discomfort for Paul in the experience, but even as he battled the waves and choked on seawater, God was by his side and brought him safely to land.
Stormy seas are no surprise to the Lord. We live in a sinful world where storms are an inevitable part of life. Wonder and beauty are found when we make God the Captain of our little ship and trust Him to keep us afloat until we sail into our eternal port of call -- heaven.
"Those who go down to the sea in ships...they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind...He calms the storm, so that its waves are still...So He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Psalm 107.
(published October 11, 2020 on my blog)