In the dark days of Germany during World War II, a German pastor’s home was destroyed by the Allied bombing campaign. Even though he opposed Hitler’s Third Reich, there was no way for the high-altitude bombers to know that, so he too felt the nightly terror of the falling bombs.
He and his family took shelter away from the ruined city in a rural farming village. One night, as he walked through the peaceful streets of the little hamlet, he noticed how everything was so peaceful there. It was as ideal as he had imagined it could be – cows on the hills, people talking about the upcoming harvest, cozy lights peeking out between the curtains of the houses. It was completely different from the world he had just come from.
However, and much to his surprise, was the unexpected lack of peace he felt inside himself. What he experienced was an inner turmoil, and a feeling that he didn’t belong there. He wrote this,
"In the next few days, it drove me back to the ruined city and the people whose faces were still marked by the terror of the bombings. Oddly, it was here where I felt at home. These people understood what I had gone through because they had suffered it themselves. The people of the village did not understand me. To them I was a disquieting apparition from another frightening world. There is nothing more comforting than to have people who understand who you are and what you have been through..."
As a Christian who faces the storms and troubles of life, I can take comfort and courage from a savior who came into my world, experienced its troubles, and who understands my storms. He is my friend in the storm. And, he not only has the compassion, but also the power to help me. I’m not alone and I’m not cut off from help.
It’s like the story of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4. A number of things pop out at us in this account: first, it was Jesus’ idea to get in the boat that day; and second, the storm produced this fear-driven rebuke of Jesus from his disciples, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
I can relate to this! Many times, my storms make me forget who God is, because of what I fear. I can actually make an idol out of any storm by forgetting that along with the storm, the Lord gives me the gift of himself. Like the disciples, I too forget that he is in the boat with me, in the storm! And who he is makes all the difference in the world! First, by his incarnation, he is a man who understands my suffering; he’s been there. Second, as the Son of God, He is the almighty God who has the power to speak peace into my storm; he is my rock and fortress. And finally, as my God-Man Savior, Jesus has conquered the storm’s power to condemn me – for by his death on the cross for my sins, he has removed any barrier between God and myself. In him, I now live beneath an open heaven, in Him God relates to me ONLY from his love for me.
Though I may be tempted to interpret my storms as God’s judgment, God points me to Jesus’ death upon the cross for me and assures me that his judgment for my sin is completely and forever satisfied! As he promises in Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
As we encounter the storms in this life, may God grant us faith to see that he is in the boat with us as our friend and our savior. May we hear his words, “Peace, be still.” Float our boats dear Lord! Give us your peace. To God be the glory!
Helmut Thielicke, Christ and the Meaning of Life