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Newcastle, NSW

Through The Storm

Have you ever been faced with a challenge that seemed impossible to overcome? No matter how much you tried to fix the problem, there just wasn’t any solutions? Well, life can be like that sometimes. Storms seem to come out of nowhere and all we can do is hope to survive, right? Well what if there was a solution, and anyone could access it? Would you be interested?

One of my favourite stories of Jesus is found in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had been preaching all day. He is tired and weary from crowds pressing on Him. So He says to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side [of the sea].” The Bible says that as soon as the boat starts to move, Jesus fell asleep on a pillow. Then, without any warning, a great storm arose and threatened the life of the disciples. Now these guys were not your ordinary wimpy kind of guys, they were used to life at sea. After all they were fishermen, they had been on boats most of their lives.

The Sea of Galilee is known for its sudden violent storms. But on this particular day, this storm was beyond anything they had ever experienced before. They were way out of their comfort zone and didn’t know what to do. It’s safe to believe that they did everything they could in their own power to fight against this storm, but they were unsuccessful to gain control of the situation, until they called out to the Master, who was fast asleep on a pillow. When the Master heard their cry, He got up and said those three famous words, “Peace, Be Still!”

I love this story because it reminds me of the sudden storms that have come out of nowhere in my own life. I went through a divorce after seven years of a terrible marriage and I suddenly found myself as a single mom with a 3 year old son in a foreign country; without any support from the government, without a visa, without any qualifications, without any way to pay the bills, without a house to live in, without any food, and without a network of family to help. Just as the disciples in the storm, I tried to do everything I could to gain control of my life, but I was tossed back and forth, by the strength of the storm. And like the disciples, I also called out to Jesus to help me, and He heard my prayers and answered me. As soon as I called out to Jesus, I suddenly felt like I could handle the storm that was raging in my life, because I was now standing with the One who can speak to the storm.

I asked Jesus for a visa to stay in the country, and He answered by giving me a refugee visa, so that instead of paying $6000 dollars to become a permanent resident, I only paid $30 to become an Australian Citizen. I asked Jesus for a qualification to find work and He allowed me to study to become a Registered Nurse to minister to those who are weak and in need of a Saviour. I asked Jesus for a house and He sent an amazing friend named Sam who offered us a small caravan to live in at an affordable price, while she helped take care of my son as I studied. I asked Jesus for financial help with my school fees and he sent numerous, anonymous, donors to help cover the cost of college fees; out of a total of more than $30000 of tuition, I only paid a quarter of the total cost from the money I raised on my own. I asked Jesus for fuel to travel back and forth from school (which was over an hour drive each way) then one day when I ran out of fuel on the side of the freeway, He sent a man a few minutes later with 15 litres of fuel to help me get home safely. I was on my knees asking Jesus for food to help feed my son, and when I went to the front door there were bags of groceries waiting for me just outside. I fell down crying and thanking God for another miracle. For the next few years, while studying, I received a box of groceries every Friday afternoon until I graduated and could get my own. I asked Jesus for a network of friends to help me with my son while I studied during the day and worked at night and on the weekends, and several families offered to babysit. I asked Jesus for a man who would love me and my son, and a few years later He sent me an amazing husband who I have now been married to for over ten years and has blessed me with a beautiful daughter as well. I had no idea what was ahead when I was struggling through those storms, but Jesus knew.

Before Jesus crossed over to the other side of the lake, do you think He knew that a storm was coming? Of course He did. Yet, He still continued to go with the disciples into the approaching storm. Why would He do that? Because sometimes Jesus leads us to a place that is surrounded by deep struggles in order to teach us something. He takes us there to reveal to us that His power is greater than any storm we will ever come across.

I wish I could tell you my prayers were answered instantly whenever I asked. But the truth is, they were not. Jesus took me on a journey of faith, trust, and patience. Jesus knows that when we are up against the wind and the rain it is very hard to have faith. He knows that when we are struggling against the waves of life, it is difficult to trust Him fully. He knows that our patience is hindered when we are battling against the storm and struggling to survive. But let me assure you, that if you trust Jesus in the storm, you are guaranteed to come out of it a stronger survivor for Jesus.

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 9 verse 23, it says that “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up the cross daily, and follow me.” Many have mistaken the idea of following Jesus as being free from troubles and trials; of having a constant mountaintop experience without ever trudging through the valley. But the truth is quite the opposite. Following Jesus equals storms and struggles. But friends, I would rather be in the valleys with Jesus than on the mountaintops without Him.

What are the storms in your life? What have you been struggling with? Are you drowning in the depths of divorce? Are you barely afloat financially? Are you being pulled down by depression, fear, or anxiety? Are you struggling to navigate through the treacherous waters of guilt and shame? Are you being flooded with negative thoughts about how you don’t look like the people on magazine covers and feeling like you are not good enough? Are you sinking in loneliness, searching for someone to share your life with?

Call out to Jesus, He doesn’t only calm the physical seas, but He can also calm the seas within your mind and your heart. There are no mountains too high for Him to climb and no valleys too low for Him to reach. Don’t waste your time telling Jesus how big your storm is, tell your storm how big Jesus is. Put your faith and trust in the Master and let Him calm your raging storms, because He cares for you. Be still and know that He can give you peace.

Malvinas Penland

Mother, Wife, Follower of Jesus

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