Yesterday, several of us traveled from Siem Reap out to Tonle Sap Lake to visit two of the graduates from the first class at the International Bible Institute of Siem Reap, one of our Bear Valley extensions. They live on a raft and operate a water filtration system capable of servicing dozens of locals each day. The lake is over an hour from Siem Reap, and they have yet to establish a congregation so our visit was to encourage them. After visiting, we were having a devotional—singing songs and having a short lesson. During the lesson, the winds started to blow and the raft started to pull against the ropes tied to the dock. Suddenly, hard and heavy tropical rains had replaced sunny skies and we were in a storm. The dock was damaged by the raft tugging against it, and quickly we were tethered by only one rope. Currents were moving downstream in this, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and the surge flow produced fast-moving water intensified by the rains. In short, the visit could have ended much more dramatically and dangerously.
There were things that struck me about that storm—it was sudden, powerful, and intense. It is hard to think of disciples in a boat during a storm without thinking of the events recorded in Matthew 8:23-27. A storm arose, the boat was covered with waves, the seasoned fishermen and boatmen were frightened, and Jesus was asleep onboard. They awake Him, He rebuked the wind and the water, and then He rebuked them. Their faith was not as firm as the fracas. After yesterday, I am even less critical of their reaction. It’s easy to feel small and helpless when such a storm arises.
The Bible compares our trials and difficulties to storms. Job and David, among others, call them “tempests” (Job 9:17; Psa. 55:8). Jesus calls them floods and torrents (Luke 6:47-49). Solomon likens them to storms (Pro. 1:27). We appreciate the imagery!
These storms can blow us off course and can even make us drift. We can find ourselves barely hanging on and wondering how much more we can take. Let us remember that Jesus is still with us (Mat. 28:20), so no matter how fierce the storm we will ultimately survive. “Ultimately” may not mean being spared from physical death, but it does mean that we will preserve our spiritual lives. May our faith be strong enough to remember that as long as our Lord is near, we are more than conquerors (cf. Rom. 8:31).