Saturday, April 4, 2020

Paul Doesn’t Calm the Storm

Many times, the Holy Spirit makes me question something in the Bible—either because of a translation or because He wants me to dig into another aspect of Him and our relationship. This time, it’s the latter, bringing to me the question:

“Why didn’t Paul calm the storm?” (Acts 27).

It puzzled me, because we know Paul understood the power and authority he had in Christ and the Holy Ghost. He may not have been present the times Jesus calmed the storms but knew the stories and knew that was something all believers could do. For me, it would have saved Paul much trouble being stranded at sea and then shipwrecked. So why didn’t Paul calm the storm?

I asked someone else about this question and their answer of “because Paul was in disobedience” did not sit right with me. There was another reason, for we know that the ‘Gifts of the Spirit are without repentance’ (Romans 11:29) and ‘our righteousness is in Christ, not our works’ (Philippians 3:9). Furthermore, we know that Christ bore all our sins of the flesh at the Cross once and for all time (Hebrews 10). So, Paul disobeying the Holy Ghost by going to Jerusalem was not the cause of him not ‘able’ to calm the storm.

While on the ship in the storm, Paul was visited by and angel that assured him all on board would be saved. The angel could have easily said, “Paul speak calm to the storm”, but the angel did not. This is not because Paul didn’t have the power or authority or belief to do so; it was because God didn’t instruct Him to calm the storm—it is not a requirement of God to calm storms. Just as it is not a requirement of Him to eliminate persecution in our lives (which actually is a promise that we will be persecuted). This is what Jesus said:

Mark 10:29-30
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Likewise, Jesus didn’t need to calm the storms He was in. Let’s look how He handled the literal storms He was in—both when He was asleep on the boat, and the other where He walked across the water in the storm.

Jesus had the Spiritual Gift of foreknowledge. When Jesus climbed aboard the boat, the Holy Ghost could have easily told Him about the upcoming storm they were going into. But yet, He did not speak ahead of the journey to quiet the storm. Nor did His Father say He must. He climbed in and fell asleep. Then the storm hit.

Mark 4:35-41
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Jesus was not planning on waking up to calm the storm; Jesus was calm in the storm. And this is the key! Storms will always come, but it is our reaction to them that matters the most.

It was only because of the fear of the crew that Jesus actually calmed the storm. The boat was never going to sink. Jesus said let’s climb in and “go to the other side” …He did not say, let’s climb in and “drown in the middle of the lake”. Jesus was assured in His own words that they would get to the other side. If the disciples (crew) fell asleep like Jesus, they would have ridden out the storm and arrived safely on the other side as Jesus said they would.

And when Jesus sent His disciples across the lake without Him, the disciples knew they were headed into the storm. This is why they argued with Jesus about going without Him. But Jesus told them He would meet them on the other side, not “drown in the middle of the lake.”

Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately Jesus constrained His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

And when the disciples were in the middle of the storm not making any headway, along walks Jesus to meet them on the other side. Jesus didn’t plan on getting into the boat (Mark 6:48), He was doing what He said about meeting them on the other side. It was only after the disciples called Him (again like the previous time) that Jesus turned and went to them.

Jesus didn’t calm the storm when they called Him or when He saw them. The storm kept raging even as Peter stepped out of the boat. There was plenty of time for Jesus to calm the storm, but once again, Jesus was calm in the storm. And it was only after Jesus got in the boat that the storm vanished, and they found themselves transported to the other side of the lake (John 6:21).

So, it’s not about us making the storms of life go away, storms are a matter of life (they will always happen, both literally and personally). And I believe Paul understood this—as Paul was used to persecution and plenty of personal storms. Just as the Lord didn’t remove Paul’s horrible persecution by the silversmith (his thorn in the side), so does the Lord not have an obligation to remove the storm; nor commands us to remove the storm.

There will be times when He tells you to speak against the storm, but it is down to a matter of personal relationship through hearing what the Spirit says. If He says, “Be calm in the storm”, then do so. And if He says, “Calm the storm”, then do so too. Listen to the Holy Ghost about the storm. Sometimes you will go around it, sometimes through it, and other times defeat it. But in ALL cases, the Lord is with you. And even if you are disobedient toward God (which we all are religiously every day), you don’t have to worry about not hearing Him or not using His Gifts (which He will never remove from you). For even ‘if you are unfaithful, He remains Faithful’ (2 Timothy 2:13).

So, whatever your situation is now, ask the Lord about it and see what He wants you to do:
  • Be calm in the storm.
  • Calm the storm.
  • Avoid the storm.

God Bless!