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Are we Aware of His presence in our Storms?

     Are we constantly conscious of His presence? Are we attentive to the messages He is shouting to us in our storms? Can we spot His presence in our every day living? Do we take pains to see Him in all His various disguises? Are we able to grasp Him in our adversity? Do we know by experience how He has previously been present in our trials? When asked, many Christians honestly respond, “I am not always aware of God’s presence with me. I know that God is always here.” Yes, in our storms or adversity we are often not aware of Him and we find Him too far away. But sometimes our storms can be the link to our awareness of His presence.

     In the midst of our adversity or storm, our main concern is how to survive the storm. How can I live through the adversity? Our focus is like that of the disciples, who when they saw Jesus walking towards them in the storm, was one of fear and lack of recognition of Jesus. But, for us to be able to see Jesus, we have to concentrate on asking our Lord, “What is preventing me from seeing You, Lord? Help me to experience Your presence in this storm!” “Why am I so slow to see Your presence? Please help me to catch a glimpse of Your plan for me in this adversity.”

     In all our storms, Jesus is always there to encourage us, to strengthen us, to give us hope, to nurse us, to restore us and to resurrect us into new perspective in life. It is for us to recognize Him in the many ways He makes His presence known: a word from the Bible, an encouragement from someone, a kindness, an assurance, a dream, a comfort, and a help from a total stranger.


     The passages below are taken from Charles Stanley’s book, “Our Unmet Needs.” It was published by Thomas Nelson, Inc in 1999.


Every person’s life is marked by storms of one kind or another. The reality for each of us is that: we are in a storm, have just emerged from a storm, or are about to enter a storm. No geographic area of the earth is immune from natural atmospheric storms, and no person or relationship is immune from inner storms. Since we cannot avoid storms, we must learn to deal with them.

All kinds of atmospheric storms impact us on this earth--—windstorms, sandstorms, rainstorms, thunderstorms, snowstorms. At times these storms are driving, blinding, destructive, and costly, even to the costing of life itself. Such storms often make the headlines--—they evoke a ripple effect of devastation in the general public and, in many cases, bring about a response of public compassion and concern.

We also face a number of emotional storms in our lives, no less blinding, destructive, and devastating. If these storms are known by the public, even a small group of friends, they also have a ripple effect. No emotional storm impacts only one person.

    The response to emotional storms is somewhat different from the response to atmospheric storms. Some respond to the victims of emotional storms with compassion and concern, others shun the persons at the center of the storms, and still others tend to be critical of those who experience emotional storms, usually blaming them in some way for what has happened. In dealing with a storm, we are called to examine the way in which we confront a storm and the manner in which we respond to both the instigators and the victims of that storm.

What happens if the emotional storm a person experiences is not readily known by others? Does the storm impact others any less? Not really. An emotional storm within a person or family will spill over to impact others in ways that may not be readily understood or even identified as relating to the storm. For example, anger that brews within a person is likely to erupt suddenly and sometimes violently, and often it is aimed at someone who was not the initial reason for the anger. The innocent victims of such anger are left wondering, “Where did that come from? What brought that on?” They have no understanding of the inner emotional storm that had been raging and very likely is continuing to rage in silence within the person.

The conclusion we must draw is this: storms occur, and storms cause damage--—sooner or later, to greater or lesser degrees--—unless they are dealt with by the only One capable of truly calming a natural or emotional storm, Jesus Christ.

In learning to deal with life’s storms, we must turn to Jesus and discover the provision that He makes for us when storms strike us.



Let us keep in mind as we study Christ’s provision that the nature of the storm is not at issue. The storm may be in a marriage, in health, in finances, in work, in a relationship with children. What we do in the aftermath of a storm, and especially to keep another storm from arising, is very important, and it relates to the nature of the storm. But while we are in a storm, its nature is not an important issue.

A storm hits the whole of one’s life. If you are having financial difficulties, such a storm will have a profound effect on your marriage and family life, your performance at work and in other areas, and ultimately, if the financial difficulty is not resolved, it may even impact your health. A storm in your marriage will impact your children, your finances, your work, and your health.

Neither is the cause of the storm at issue. When you are in the midst of a storm, your primary concern is with survival. Pointing a finger at the person or circumstance that caused the storm is not a productive response. After the storm has passed, you may be wise to take a good, long, objective look at what caused the storm so that if at all possible, you can avoid or avert such a storm in the future. You may be wise to alter your relationship with a storm-causing person in some way, preferably to seek loving reconciliation and greater communication and understanding with that person. But during the storm itself, your concern is not going to be primarily with the cause of the storm.

What is your concern in the midst of a storm? How can you survive the storm? How can you live through the situation or circumstance? How can you emerge from the storm?

God’s Word assures us that Jesus provides answers to these critical questions. One example of the way Jesus deals with those who are experiencing a storm is found in Matthew 14:22—34. We referred to this story in an earlier chapter, but in this chapter, I want you to focus on several different aspects of the story.

Jesus had just finished a full day of tremendous ministry--—preaching, teaching, and healing a great multitude of people who followed Him out into a desolate area. Before sending the people away, Jesus had multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed the hungry crowd of five thousand men and their families. Then, no doubt in exhaustion, Jesus

made 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. (Matthew 14:22—24 NKJV)


In the fourth watch of the night, sometime between three and six o’clock in the early morning, Jesus went to His disciples who were struggling in the storm; He walked on the sea to them. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they cried out in their fear, “It is a ghost!” Here is how Matthew told the rest of this story:

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.”  When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. (Matthew 14:27—34 NKJV)


The first thing that we are wise to recognize when a storm strikes is that Jesus is present with us in the storm, just as He was present for His disciples in this story. Jesus is present. He is with us at all times, in all circumstances. There is never a single moment of your life in which Jesus is not there for you and with you.



Nothing can match the power of an awareness that Jesus is present. The presence of friends, advisers, and colleagues can never match the presence of Jesus.

The disciples had been struggling all night without making any progress. Storms arose suddenly in the Galilee area. The winds came across the land from the Mediterranean Sea and then rushed down the steep valleys into the Sea of Galilee, beating the sea almost as if a giant hand mixer were lowered into the waters. The disciples had struggled against such a wind for at least nine hours and had gone a distance of only about five miles, no doubt fighting for every inch of progress they made to keep the boat from capsizing.

Storms strike us quickly at times and often fiercely. We may feel as if there is no way out--—everything becomes an intense struggle that seems overwhelming.

A woman once said to me about the day that her husband told her he was filing for a divorce, “Everything began to spin. I felt as if I was hanging on to the edge of a world that had gone out of control. For the next few weeks, it was all I could do to hang on. It was a tremendous effort just to get up and get my children off to school and go through the basic routines of what needed to be done in my life. Nothing else mattered---just getting through the day took all of my energy and strength.” Emotional storms are often that violent and all-consuming.

Jesus knows about storms. You can be assured that He knows every detail about the storm you are experiencing. He knows far more about the storm than you know or will ever know. Furthermore, He knew that His disciples were struggling and battling the storm with all their strength. He knew they were in one of those periods that no doubt seemed to them to be the fight of their lives. He knows how you struggle when you are in a storm. And Jesus’ response was this: He came to them.

Notice that He did not calm the storm from afar, although He could have done that. He had calmed a natural, physical storm on the Sea of Galilee at a previous time. This time, Jesus chose not to calm the storm as He had done before.

Neither did Jesus ignore the storm, knowing in His sovereignty that the storm would eventually blow over without loss of life or property.

Rather, Jesus knew that in this particular storm, the most important thing that His disciples could experience was an awareness of His presence.

Note that I said not Jesus’ presence, but an awareness of His presence. Jesus was just as much present with His disciples while He was up on the mountain in prayer as He was when He walked on the sea to them. They were never out of His sight or His concern.

But the disciples were not aware that Jesus knew or cared about them. Their thoughts were not on Jesus, even though His focus was on them. Their thoughts were so much on things other than Jesus that when Jesus appeared to them walking on the sea, they thought He was a ghost! They were frightened at the sight of Him.

We are so like these disciples! We often fail to look for Jesus in the midst of our storms, and we fail to recognize Him when He comes.

The likelihood is that Jesus may not come to you in precisely the way you expect Him to come. He may not come to you in a form that you quickly recognize. Probably the last thing on the earth that the disciples expected that night was to see Jesus walking on the water to them, yet that is the way Jesus chose to reveal Himself to them. Jesus may come to you in a totally unexpected fashion. And if you are not aware that He is present with you or that He cares enough to come to you in your storm, your response to the Lord may be the same as that of the disciples: fear and lack of recognition.

Let me give you a very practical example. A woman once told me of her reaction when her family physician said to her, “You have cancer.” She said, “Dr. Stanley, it was as if my doctor had just thrown a black blanket of fear over me. I could hardly think. My eyes wouldn’t focus. My ears seemed to ring. I was so stunned I felt paralyzed, incapable of moving. I didn’t even hear the rest of what the doctor had to say, which was to tell me that he thought this cancer could be stopped with radiation treatments since it was in very early stages. If my daughter hadn’t been with me during that appointment, I’m not sure I could have made it out of his office and to the car--—I was that much in a fog.

“The next week, I made my first visit to the radiologist that my physician had recommended. I walked into his office and then into the radiology room filled with fear. What I hadn’t expected at all was that this man might be a Christian, or that he might be aware of how I was feeling inside. I was completely surprised when he asked me, ‘Are you afraid?’ I admitted to him that I was fearful, not only of the cancer but also of the radiation. Then he said to me, ‘I am a Christian, and I believe that prayer can help a person in times like these. Would it be all right with you if I said a prayer for you?’ I said, ‘Most certainly.’ He prayed a sweet but very powerful prayer and as he prayed, I could feel my body relaxing. He took time to talk to me about both the cancer and the radiation treatments. I sensed that he truly cared about me, and I became more confident about what I was facing.

“The next time I went to see him I was less afraid. I told him how much his prayer had meant to me, and he asked if we might pray together again before my second treatment. Of course I agreed! This happened each time I went for treatments---thirty-two in all. I tell people now that I had thirty-two radiation treatments and thirty-two prayer treatments!

“By the time I had my last treatment, I was almost sorry it was my last visit to see him--—not that I wanted more radiation, mind you, but I had come to appreciate this man’s prayers and his calm and reassuring faith. It was a few weeks later that the thought struck me, Why, that was Jesus coming to me through the form and skills of that radiologist! The love and power of Jesus in him gave me hope and eased my fears. The presence of Jesus in him had become a part of my healing process!”

I don’t know the way in which Jesus will come to you in your storm, but I can say to you in full confidence: Jesus will come to you in the precise way and form that you need Him the most. Trust Him to reveal Himself to you. He wants you to know that He is with you in the midst of the storm.



Why is an awareness of Jesus’ presence so important?

When we become aware of Jesus with us, several things happen to us. Taken together, these things add up to total assurance. When we are aware that Jesus is with us, we immediately become comforted.

Comforted. Each of us knows that when we are alone, it is much easier to feel fearful, but if we have even one friend with us in a time of trouble, we take comfort in his presence. Jesus is the Friend of friends. One of the terms given to the Holy Spirit is that of Comforter. When you are aware that Jesus is with you in your storm, you can’t help being comforted by His presence.

More courageous. We take courage that we can face what lies before us. Who comes to us in our storm? The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the almighty, all-sufficient, all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving Savior and Deliverer! With Jesus beside us, who can stand against us? We cannot help feeling more courageous when we are aware that Jesus is by our side.

More confident. We become confident that God will see us through. Confidence is directly related to our knowing that a current trial or time of trouble will come to an end. When Jesus appears--—throughout the Gospel books of the New Testament and in every instance we can cite in our lives today--—He comes as Victor. The devil cannot remain where Jesus dwells. The enemy cannot succeed when Jesus arrives on the scene. Our confidence is no longer in ourselves to be able to survive, to endure, or to conquer; our confidence is in Jesus. Our confidence is based upon who Jesus is and what He will do for us, which always will be for our ultimate and eternal good. (See Romans 8:28)



An awareness of Jesus’ presence also reminds us that no storm can separate us from the Lord. No matter how fierce the storm rages or how powerful it seems to be against us, the storm cannot separate us from God’s love, forgiveness, help, or promises. Paul wrote to the Romans,

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37—39 NKJV)


The truth of the Lord’s ever-presence (omnipresence) comes to us each time we become aware that He is with us in a storm. Just before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus spoke to His disciples about His abiding presence with them. He said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). He promised them that He would send the Holy Spirit to them as their Helper.

As Jesus spoke to His disciples after His resurrection, preparing them for His ascension to heaven, He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). In the form of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us at all times. He is always present in our lives, every minute of every hour of every day.

How blessed we are to live in the time of the Holy Spirit! When Jesus was alive on the earth, He could not be in two places at one time. But now, Jesus is free of all constraints of time and space. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He is with each of those who believe in Him at all times. We never need to call for Jesus to show up. He is already present. We may have a sudden awareness of His presence, so much so that it feels as if He just showed up, but it is not a sudden coming of Jesus--—rather, a sudden awareness on our part.



How might we become aware of Jesus’ presence? By asking Him to reveal Himself to us.

So often, we ask the wrong questions of the Lord. We say, “Where are You, God? Why don’t You show up? Can’t You see what’s happening to me? Can’t You see how I am struggling? Can’t You see the pain I’m in?” The answer of the Lord, of course, is, “I’m right here with you. I know exactly what’s going on!”

Our question of the Lord should be, “What is keeping me from seeing You? Help me to see You and to experience Your presence!”

One of the most intense emotional storms described in the New Testament is that experienced by Mary and Martha in the aftermath of their brother’s death. Lazarus became sick, and Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3). Jesus responded by saying, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (v.4)

Jesus stayed where He was for two more days, and then He said to His disciples, “Let us go to Judea again . . . Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (vv. 7,11). The disciples couldn’t understand Jesus’ reasoning since they knew it was dangerous for them to return to Judea, and they also figured that if Lazarus was sleeping, he was getting better. Jesus finally said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him” (vv. 14—15).

Now on the surface it may appear that Jesus was not present or aware of Lazarus in that terrible storm of sickness. In truth, Jesus was very aware of all that was happening to His friend as well as what was happening to Mary and Martha. He knew exactly the full plan and purpose of God in the storm they were experiencing. He knew the moment that Lazarus died.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, He found that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Mourners who had filled the house of Martha and Mary were attempting to comfort them. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus had arrived on the scene, she ran out to meet Him, saying, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21). Even Martha, who knew Jesus so well, assumed that Jesus had not been present in their lives. She went on to make a great statement of faith, however, saying, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (v.22). She didn’t expect that Jesus would be able to ask or receive anything related to Lazarus, but her faith remained in Jesus that He was no less the Healer, Deliverer, and Savior.

Martha and Mary might very well have talked to each other prior to Jesus’ arrival and said, “Why hasn’t Jesus come? Surely He loves us. He has been in our home. We have shared meals with Him, laughed with Him, heard Him teach. He knows how much we love Him, and we know He loves us. So where is He?” Those are the kinds of questions we ask today when we, as Christian believers, experience storms.

The real question, however, should be, “What is Your purpose in this, Lord? Why am I slow to see Your presence and to catch a glimpse of Your plan?”

Jesus did not respond directly to Martha’s statements, but He spoke God’s plan to her: “Your brother will rise again” (v. 23). Martha did not understand what He meant. She said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (v. 24). Jesus then said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (vv. 25—26).

Jesus went on to Lazarus’s tomb and insisted that the stone be rolled away. He then prayed, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me” (vv. 41—42). He then cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” (v. 43). And Lazarus came walking out of that tomb, restored to life four days after his death.

What was the message of Jesus to Martha and Mary and to all who experienced the evidence of that miracle? It is the simple message that Jesus is. Wherever Jesus is, there one finds the full operation of the fullness of Jesus.

We say, “Where were You, Jesus?” or we say, “When Jesus comes. . .” The fact is, Jesus is. God revealed Himself to Moses in precisely this way, saying, “I AM.” (See Exodus 3:14.) Jesus is.

He is never going to be more your Savior, your Healer, your Deliverer, or your Lord than He is right now. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The fullness of who He is, is with you right now. There is no more of Jesus left to show up. All of Him is present with you. All of Him has been with you. And all of Him will continue to be with you.

Jesus declared to Mary and Martha the truth that rings down through the generations to us, “I am the resurrection and the life.” When we become aware of the presence of Jesus with us in a storm, we must become aware that Jesus is with us in the fullness of His power to be the resurrection and the life. No matter how battered, bruised, or even dead we may feel inside as the result of our struggle, Jesus is with us to raise us up into newness of life. No matter how exhausted, broken, or devastated we may feel, Jesus is present with us to restore us, heal us, and energize us. He always comes to give us life and to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10). His very presence with us infuses life into our being.



Why doesn’t Jesus reveal Himself to us sooner than later? Why wait until the disciples were weary from rowing all night against a contrary wind? Why wait until Lazarus had been in the tomb four days? Because then the disciples were ready to become aware of Jesus. Then Mary and Martha, as well as the disciples, were ready to experience the great miracle that confirmed Jesus as Messiah and gave evidence that Jesus would rise from His own death and be the resurrection for all who believe in Him.

The “late” appearing of Jesus was not a lack of Jesus’ presence but an appearance of Jesus in such a way and in the fullness of time so that those in need--—the disciples, and Mary and Martha--—might truly become aware of His presence.

If you are not experiencing the full presence of Jesus in your storm or time of trouble, ask the Lord to show you what is keeping you from experiencing His full and immediate presence. Ask Him to show you what He desires for you to recognize, learn, or experience as part of your having an awareness of His presence.



It is also important that you ask the Lord to help you recognize every person He sends to help you. Just as the Lord sent a Christian radiologist to help the woman whose story is told earlier in this chapter, so Jesus may send you very precise help in the form of a specific person. Don’t miss that messenger of God’s love and mercy!

Jesus told a story about a person who experienced a severe storm in his life. While on the road that led down to Jericho from Jerusalem, the man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Two men passed by without offering assistance to the injured man, and then, Jesus said, a man from Samaria spotted him, stopped, assisted him, and took him to a safe shelter in Jericho where he paid for the injured man’s lodging and further medical help. Jesus asked those who heard this story, “Which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” The people quickly replied, “He who showed mercy on him.” Jesus then said, “Go and do likewise.” (See Luke 10:30—37.)

How many times has Jesus come to you in the form of a good Samaritan---someone who rescued you, ministered to you, cared for you, gave practical assistance to you, and looked out for your best interests? How many times have you been the recipient of someone’s unrequested kindness? Have you seen Jesus at work in that experience or incident? Have you been aware that Jesus is the One who was behind the scenes all the time, ministering to you through that person, very much present in your time of need?

One reason you are not aware of Jesus’ presence is that you have not asked Jesus just who He is using to bring about God’s perfect plan and purpose in your life. It may be a person you never would have suspected.



Many times, Jesus may not even use a person to make you aware of His presence. He may speak to you directly through a vision, through a message that someone preaches to you, or through the Word of God as you read it.

I once heard about a minister who was pastoring two small churches, preaching in each church every other Sunday. He was weary from the constant travel and the many needs that he saw in each of his small, rural congregations. He was struggling to do his best and remain encouraged in the Lord. He began to doubt his ability to minister adequately to the people.

He walked into his pastor’s study on Monday morning and noticed that a Bible lay open on his desk. Thinking that perhaps he had left it open there on Saturday afternoon, he closed it and shelved it. The following Monday, the Bible was again open on his desk. He stopped to read the two pages that were open. Part of what he read was Luke 9:62. The words just seemed to leap off the page to him: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

He immediately fell to his knees, asking the Lord to forgive him for doubting the Lord’s call on his life and for failing to rely completely on the Lord for the ability to minister to the people.

The next Monday morning, the Bible again lay open. The minister had no secretary, and as far as he knew, nobody in the church had a key to his private office. Yet Monday morning after Monday morning, his Bible was open on his desk when he walked into his office. Each Monday, words seemed to leap off the pages to him, encouraging him in his ministry and building him up in his faith.

Finally the preacher asked the Lord to reveal to him who was ministering to him in such a profound way so that he might thank the person. The Lord brought to mind the janitor who cleaned up the church after the Sunday morning service. Sure enough, the man had a key that gave him entrance to all areas of the church, including the pastor’s study. The preacher went to call upon the man.

He said, “Thank you for leaving the open Bible for me to read each Monday. You’ll never know how much the Lord has used these passages of Scripture to help me and to build me up so that I can do the job He has called me to do.”

The man seemed a little puzzled. “Aren’t you the one who has been giving me these verses to read?” the pastor asked.

The man replied, “No, sir. Wish I was. But you see, Preacher, I can’t read. It seems every time I go into your study, though, there’s your Bible lying facedown on the floor. I thought you were dropping it on purpose for me to read. So I picked it up real careful like and laid it on your desk to the open part, thinking maybe you’d make a sermon of what was there so I could get the message from the pulpit, seeing as I couldn’t read the pages for myself. And sure enough, it seems like you’ve been preaching right to me these past couple of months.”

The preacher never discovered who or what had caused his study Bible to tumble to the floor each week. The cause didn’t really matter. What mattered was that the preacher chose to see Jesus in the pages of the Bible that lay open before him, and then to share the Jesus of the Bible with others. He could have dismissed what was happening as coincidence or something very mysterious--—not unlike the disciples thinking they were seeing a ghost. Rather, the preacher chose to see Jesus at work. He saw Jesus using an unusual situation in which to reveal Himself and to make the preacher aware of His presence.

As you read the Bible, look for Jesus to speak to you directly and intimately with a message that you know is just for you in the midst of your storm. What is Jesus doing in the passage that He brings to your mind or seems to highlight on the pages you are reading in your Bible? Jesus desires to do that same work or to teach you that same lesson in your life, even in the midst of the storm. He is there with you. Receive His comforting presence!

Jesus will show Himself to you. If you are eager to experience His presence, He will enable you to experience Him. He is already present. Ask Him for spiritual eyes to see Him at work, and spiritual ears to hear His words to you. (114-127)

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