My son-in-law Darren is a sailing enthusiast. The combination of the wildness of the wind and the discipline of navigation suits him, as he is both an outdoorsman and an engineer. He has learned to manoeuvre his craft under all sorts of conditions, including unfavourable ones. In its online course, the U.S. Sailing Association states the obvious: “The best tactic to deal with heavy weather is to avoid it.” But there are techniques for dealing with unexpected storms.
Choosing how to ride out a storm depends on what direction it comes from. If it comes at you head on, facing the waves is the only strategy. Sail straight into the worst of it. When life gets stormy, keep going. Feel everything that you need to feel. Mourn everything that you need to mourn. Do not be afraid to rant against God. Sometimes the best way to purge ourselves of the fear, anger, and resentment that threaten to overwhelm us is just to lean over the railing and let it all out.
The Bible is full of ranting saints whose cries of protest against the unfairness of life still ring true to our troubled ears. God wants us to be honest, and to face the reality of our hurts. It is when we try to turn to run away that the ship will roll and risk being capsized.
Should the storm come at you from astern, again the advice is to just keep going. Waves approaching from right behind are the least dangerous, though you can’t always see them coming. Take courage. Running with the wind can give you the opportunity to navigate to safety.
But what if you feel like you are losing control? A good way to add stability to your ship is to put out a drogue, an anchor used to steady a ship during a storm. It is appropriate that the Bible uses a ship’s anchor as a metaphor for hope, calling hope the anchor of the soul. Jesus warned us we would have troubles that would test our faith. But even at the point when faith is at its lowest, we can always have hope.
Hope is faith’s precursor, and is within the reach even of those who have no faith to muster. If you feel like having faith in God is just too much to ask right now, ask yourself this: Can I hope that there might be a God who cares about me? If the answer is yes, you are on your way to having faith.
Hope might seem a small thing, next to the faith that moves mountains. But remember that God values small things, like flowers, when he clothes them with beauty, like sparrows, who do not fall without his tender notice, and even the hairs on your head, which he numbers and keeps track of. If you encounter stormy weather, keep sailing. If you encounter trouble, keep hoping. It is hope that fuels our survival.
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