“Tossed with Tempest”

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” by Rembrandt

As Nephi and his family crossed the sea, they experienced a huge storm, which pushed them backward for four days and threatened to sink the ship. (See 1 Nephi 18:13-14.) Nephi’s brothers were frightened, but when he prayed, “the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm” (1 Nephi 18:21).

One evening, as Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, “there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep” (Matthew 8:24; see also Mark 4:37-38, Luke 8:23). His disciples were terrified, but He was calm.

Lisa L. Harkness shared her thoughts about these scene:

I can imagine that Jesus’s disciples in the storm-tossed boat were, of necessity, busy watching the waves crash onto their deck and bailing out the water. I can picture them handling the sails and trying to maintain some semblance of control over their little craft. Their focus was on surviving the moment, and their plea for help was urgently sincere.

Many of us are no different in our day. Recent events around the globe and in our nations, communities, and families have buffeted us with unforeseen trials. In times of turmoil our faith can feel stretched to the limits of our endurance and understanding. Waves of fear can distract us, causing us to forget God’s goodness, thus leaving our perspective short-sighted and out of focus. Yet it is in these rough stretches of our journey that our faith can be not only tried but fortified.

Peace, Be Still,” General Conference, October 2020

After Jesus calmed the storm, He urged His disciples to assess their own emotional state: “Why are ye so fearful?” He asked. “How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40; see also Matthew 8:26). In Luke’s version of the story, Jesus simply asks, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25).

Sister Harkness added, “Even in turbulent times, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is gritty and resilient. It helps us sift through unimportant distractions. It encourages us to keep moving along the covenant path.”

I like that description of faith: gritty and resilient. I also like the fact that both Nephi and Jesus were calm on the inside even though the world around them was in turmoil. Unlike the people around them, they didn’t let the external storm create an internal one.

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord provided the following compassionate promise:

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires….

Thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

Isaiah 54:11, 14

When Jesus visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He quoted that passage to a group of people who had recently experienced severe natural disasters. (See 3 Nephi 22:11, 14.) The promise that they could overcome fear in spite of everything they had experienced must have been reassuring to them.

Today, I will strive with God’s help to calm the storms within. I will remember that, however tumultuous my circumstances may be, I can set aside my fears because of my faith in God, who governs the universe. I will find faith, which will help me be resilient, so that I can keep moving forward.

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