Faith vs. Fear - Bob Sawvelle - Old wooden jetty during storm on the ocean. Abstract light at the end.

Navigating the Storms of Life, Part 3

While we want to avoid trials or storms, they are a part of life. However, God uses every circumstance in your life to strengthen your faith and trust in Him. In fact, storms (or trials) can move you toward destiny—if you learn how to trust God during them!

Understand storms are roadblocks on your road to destiny fulfilled. Learning how to navigate and overcome them is vital to fulfilling your assignment.

Remember, there are two spiritual kingdoms interacting with humanity. There is God’s kingdom, full of light and love, revealed through Jesus. And there is Satan’s kingdom, which is one of death and destruction. But Jesus has defeated the powers of darkness through His vicarious death and resurrection! We need not fear the works of darkness!

That said, these evil powers oppose God’s kingdom and attempt to destroy humanity through wars, disease, human systems, and ruling powers. But the child of God, through faith in Christ, is joined in spiritual union with Jesus and His victory. We are living from Christ’s victory, from heaven toward earth.

Remember God is always present, always watchful, and always helps us through the most demanding situations we face in life.

I was reminded of missionary Jim Elliot. He was martyred in an Ecuador jungle in 1956 by the very people he was trying to reach with the gospel. After learning the Quechua language, his wife Elisabeth and daughter Valerie continued the work after his death with the Quechua tribe for two more years. Their daughter Valerie was just 10 months old when her father was killed.

Elizabeth, navigating a horrific storm in her life made this statement, which is worth repeating,

Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”

When storms arise, we often begin to question and perhaps even doubt God’s love. True faith knows not to blame God, but rather trust Him through the storm.

There are three types of storms you may encounter: the storm the enemy sends, the storms circumstances create, and the storm God allows! Each storm is navigated differently.

Storm #1

The storm the devil sends is an attack that is designed to stop you, overthrow you, and derail you from God’s purpose for your life.

In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and the disciples encounter a great storm that threatens their lives. Jesus had given them a directive to go to the other side of the sea of Galilee—there were some people on the other side who needed to hear the good news and receive his healing touch. As experienced fishermen, this was a type of storm they had never encountered before. They were fearful!

Jesus, asleep on a pillow in the stern of the boat, arose and rebuked the manifestation in the wind and the sea—there was an immediate calm. Know that often disease, financial attack, theft, violence, and evil are works of Hell.

But from a place of rest and trust in what he sees the Father doing, Jesus awakens and has authority over the storm. Jesus’ internal reality, God’s kingdom rule, was greater than the storm they faced.

Jesus challenged his disciples “where is your FAITH?” Jesus confronted their focus. He instructed them, “let’s go to the other side.” His Word was sufficient to give them leverage over the storm and enemy.“Don’t you care, we are perishing!” Yes, but you PRAY according to my word and directive! Follower of Christ, you have His authority to stand against the powers of darkness—greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!

One of my favorite “warfare” verses is Psalm 50:15, Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. What a promise—stand on this with God!

When the enemy sends a storm, find the Word God is giving you and speak to the situation—Jesus talked to the wind and waves. He talked to things, to trees that did not produce, and to spirits invisible to the human eye. Your words have power—the authority of heaven is on God’s word and upon the genuine follower of Jesus!

Thoughts become “things” when they take on the power of fear. The enemy is defeated; don’t empower him! Speak what God says and watch heaven back your utterance.

God was trying to redefine their focus and their internal reality—and He does the same for us in the storms. God didn’t send the attack, but God will work through the storm if you trust Him and keep your focus on Him.

Paul states in Eph. 3:20, that the exceeding abundance comes through God’s power working in us! “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”

Storm #2

The storm circumstances create may be choices others have made or you have made that affect you. Or sometimes these storms are simply due to unrelated causes … stuff happens in this life beyond our control!

The Apostle Paul was nearly drowned in a decision made by others to sail when they should have stayed in harbor. (Acts 27:9-12, 18-20) Paul was “trapped” on the ship by others and their poor choices.

Many Christians are “trapped” by the choices of leaders or those in authority, perhaps in business, government, even in family. Often, like Paul, we can “perceive” that there will be “loss of cargo” and possible shipwreck. But Paul went to the Lord in prayer and waited on God for strength and strategy as to how to navigate during the storm—and God gave it. (Acts 27:21-26)

Paul’s tenacious faith and prayer broke through, and God sent an angel with a message and strategy! As a result, the ship was rerouted to the island of Malta. The ship was lost, but everyone was saved—just as God said would happen.

God then uses Paul on Malta to impact the entire island with the gospel! Paul eventually made it safely to Rome—just as God had originally intended. Think of this: God added “new territory” (Malta) that wasn’t even in the original plan. God used the bad choices of people for His kingdom purposes.

God will overrule bad decisions by others to bring forth wisdom and get you where you need to be.

Do you remember David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba? God took this wrong decision, which created a storm for many, to bring forth Solomon, the wisdom child of David and Bathsheba.

Know this, the storm circumstances create become a storm God steers once you let Him take over the ship! Learn to trust God despite the wind and the waves—go with His flow—He will work all things together for the good!

Storm #3

The Storm God allows or arranges. Throughout the Bible, we see examples of God allowing testing of His people—for greater purposes.

Psalm 11:5, states directly, “The Lord tests the righteous.”

We may not see or understand God’s purpose in these “tests” or permitted storms, but God does. Remember how Joseph was severely tested? God allowed it—Joseph was destined to be a posterity for a nation.

What about Abraham? God directed him to give his son Isaac as an offering. But the angel of the Lord calls out,

Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.” (Gen. 22:12 NKJV)

God had already provided the sacrifice, but He tested Abraham’s faith and trust. Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides! But in this story, we understand that God often allows a vision to be offered up, surrendered to Him. He tests us. God will resurrect vision from the ashes if necessary once we pass the test.

The storms and testing God permits can be intense, but these circumstances are intended to move you toward destiny better prepared and with greater authority. God’s desire is to increase your realm of authority; the storm you find yourself in today may be preparing you to calm greater ones in the future.

Do remember the story of Jonah?

God sent a storm to move Jonah out of resistance and into God’s perfect will—to go to Nineveh—the place he was avoiding. (Jonah 1)

From the belly of the great fish Jonah cried, “those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy.”(Jonah 2:8) The Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited him up on land, near Nineveh—the very place Jonah was avoiding.

An idol is something keeping you from God’s greater purpose—His mercy. His undeserved blessing. An idol is anything you love more than God.

In Jonah’s case, he knew God would grant forgiveness to the Assyrians, but Jonah wanted them judged. But God’s mercy triumphs over judgment! Jonah didn’t want them to repent and be forgiven—he wanted them judged.

Many in the Church today are quick to “judge,” even speak of “judgment” because of the behavior of people. God’s heart is to “move” toward them, with a message of hope, love, and compassion. There is no one to “lost” for Jesus!

Some storms, or trials, are intended to break a hidden attachment in your life.

It may be the fear of man, an addiction, or a person or influence that does not belong there. The idol is almost always seeking something more than what pleases the Lord.

Jonah’s attachment to judgment created an idol in his heart. Often, our passions, sometimes even ministries, can become idols. Jesus must be first, not our ministries!

Certainly, compromised living can create idols in our lives. God will allow trials to bring these things to the surface, it’s His mercy so we repent.

For example, God may desire to heal you of rejection and abandonment. However, your healing may come through the storm of rejection by others until you become desperate enough to cry out to God for deliverance.

Jonah made his own agenda greater than God’s. He was delivered when he yielded and cried out to God for forgiveness—the entire time he was in distress, the fish was taking him to his destiny!

When the storm is sent from God because of our own choices, we know it. Jonah knew it. When that happens, cry out for God’s mercy (Jon. 2:2)

The late pastor and author, A.W. Tozer, wrote in his book, The Root of the Righteous, “It is doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” When I first read this statement years ago, I was offended—it didn’t seem very “grace-filled”.

I understand now what Tozer meant. God is always merciful, but in His mercy and grace, He often allows us to be humbled in order that we are better prepared to receive His blessings and to be used by Him with greater authority. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble, to the yielded.

It’s been said, “Never trust a man who doesn’t walk with a limp!”

Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord all night, and in the end, the angel touched his hip socket and he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. His name was changed from Jacob to Israel—meaning prince with God. But Jacob, now Israel, was humbled—but he fulfilled his destiny.

Most of us will “limp” into our destinies, not run!

The Psalmist writes of God’s testing and refining process through trial,

For you, O God, have tested us … but you brought us out to rich fulfillment (abundance).” (Psalm 66:10-12 NKJV)

The purpose of testing our faith is to turn us into men and women of God that will display His character and glory to the powers of darkness and to the world.

The smelter or refiner is responsible for ensuring the vessel being refined is fired for the proper length of time. God Himself places us in the fire to refine us for His purposes—for just the right amount of time!

vs. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs.

This is something you can’t handle or carry on your own. He will allow us to get bent down, until we say, “help Lord!”  Have you felt trapped and weighed down with burdens? This may be the hand of God to refine you, test you, and strengthen you.

vs. 12 “Cause men to ride over our heads.”

Paraphrasing the Psalmist: “About the time you thought you had a position of authority, someone came along and stripped that from you!” God allows us to move out of the comfortable to bring us into the greater, but it can be humbling.

Peter wrote, “the testing (trial) of your faith is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire …” (1 Pet. 1:7 NKJV)

Faith tested and tried by fire, is pure and enduring. Like hardened steel, this type of faith won’t break under pressure! This is why the writer of Proverbs could say, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Prov. 24:10 NKJV)

In The Message translation, Psalm 66:10-12 reads,

He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; finally, He brought us to this well-watered place.”

Perhaps you are feeling that you have been pushed to your very limit, that you have been “rode hard” and have been in hell, but you need to know that the end intended for you by God is to bring you into a rich, abundant place! He has destined you to overcome in Jesus, and to fulfill your purpose and destiny—He knows the end intended for you!

God is on Board in Every Storm!

Each storm is made to fulfill God’s Word over your life!

Consider, Psalm 148:8, “Fire, and hail; snow, and vapor; stormy wind fulfilling his word.”

God watches over His word to fulfill it—that includes the word over your life—every storm He will use to fulfill his word!

The Holy Spirit is in you and with you—He knows the way thru every storm. Hence God WILL NEVER LEAVE you or forsake you in the storms, no matter what the source (see Heb. 13:8).

All three storms are common to humanity. But you are an uncommon person, uniquely created with purpose and destiny, a child of God whom he loves and cares for very much.

The storms you successfully navigate become a testimony to others. See yourself as a “storm riding” child of El Shaddai—God almighty! You are his ambassador of hope and reconciliation—He is for you, not against you!

Nothing and no one can separate you from the love of the Father that we have through Jesus (see Rom. 8:31-39). You have been restored in Christ to the Father heart of God. Receive His love, trust His love and care—He is for you, not against you!

Bob Sawvelle Signature


For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Navigating the Storms of Life, Part 3”

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