Do you know that a ship has all the controls and automation but it is quite helpless when it comes to the simple concept of braking? As you know, when you park a car at night or a hilly region, you simply apply the hand brakes so that the car doesn’t move on its own. Unfortunately, there are no brakes on the ship for the simple reason that the ship is floating on water. So, when the ship is stopped and its engines are not running, there needs to be an anchor to ensure that the ship does not drift freely in the sea. If the anchor is placed properly on the bottom of the sea, it can hold a giant ship fast, even in rough seas.
Just as ships need anchors to keep them from drifting away on the open seas, people need anchors when the wind of life blows. Unless we have anchors that hold us, the fragile ship of our lives may crash against the rocks.
Anchors are what we need when we encounter storms in our lives, literally and figuratively. And speaking of storms, it’s been a year since Supertyphoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever put on record, hit our country where many perished when the City of Tacloban and Eastern Visayas in the Philippines bore the brunt of its devastating power and was practically destroyed and flattened. Many survivors are still suffering to this day and perhaps it will take a long period of time before they could finally recover.
Nov. 8 marks one year since the killer typhoon devastated Central Philippines and condemned millions to deeper poverty. My heart bleeds everytime I see on TV the outpouring of grief of tens of thousands as they marched to the (mass) grave sites under the hot sun to offer flowers, light candles and say prayers. My heart bleeds even more when I hear stories of the survivors, how they terribly miss their loved ones who perished that fateful day when the storm struck.
A mother said she lost her 3 children during the storm including her youngest who would have celebrated his 2nd birthday on Nov. 9. While another says she is now hopeless that the remains of his missing brother could still be found. She said his name was not on the list of those buried in the mass grave, so she just wrote his name. Today, and perhaps in the many more days to come most of the survivors would still be in pain physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually and many would still be suffering as they continue their fight to survive and stand up once again after a hard blow.
“Many survivors have succumbed to depression,” the news reported. Their feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may have been aggravated by the “painful slow rebuilding effort” as most survivors complain. With millions poorer and many dangerously exposed to the next big storm as they still live in shanty homes along coastal areas, one may be tempted to ask, “Lord, will they ever recover? If so, when???” If the minds of some people (just watching their poor situation on TV) have now been tainted by pessimism and doubt asking God if there is an end to the survivors’ sufferings, how much more unanswered questions linger in the minds of the poor victims themselves?
With sincere empathy and compassion I say, “situations change, and the sands of time shift” but the Bible says, “those who put their trust in God are immovable like Mount Zion.” – Psalm 125:1
All of us…and I mean all of us, experience life’s storms from time to time. No one is excused from pains and sufferings for they are integral part of human existence. We can only differ in the intensity and the gravity of the crisis that each of us encounter.
When the storms of life rage, we need four anchors: faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in your family, and faith in your friends. But there are times when your friends fail you, when your family lets you down, when you can hardly believe in yourself. Only the anchor of faith in God endures when everything else fail.
Just as the ship’s anchor needs strong chains or ropes for link and support, our Anchor of Faith also needs reinforcement to hold our life’s ship during turbulent journey.
Our faith therefore, must be more than the faith in generic dictionary variety. Our faith to be meaningful and to be effective to hold us fast must be centered in Jesus Christ, His life and His teachings. In addition, faith to be real must be coupled with belief and trust.
BELIEF + TRUST = REAL FAITH
Real faith consists of two elements: belief which appeals to the mind, and trust which is experiential and demands a response to what you believe. We believe God can do the things we are hoping for, but we don’t think He will. Belief, we have; but we’re short on trust, and without trust our faith is shallow and incomplete.
In addition to the two elements, our Anchor of Faith to be complete should be firmly grounded on the following:
Faith in God’s presence:
Storms can never hide us from God. We may not see Him, but He sees us. We may think God is a million miles away, but HAVE FAITH, He is with us and watching us.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
God is right there with us. We never go through anything by ourselves. No matter what situation you are going through right now, God is with you. He is the ONLY anchor that you can fully trust.
In Acts 27:24, Paul quotes God’s Angel (who visited him in the night): “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” God told Paul, “I have a plan for your life.“
Faith in God’s purpose:
Realize that God has a specific purpose for your life. Storms are just temporary setbacks toward fulfilling that purpose. Absolutely, nothing can change God’s ultimate purpose for your life unless you choose to disobey Him.
If you choose to reject His plan. He will allow you to do that, but the Scriptures teach that no outside person can change God’s plan for your life. God leaves that up to you. No matter what happens on the outside, external forces cannot alter God’s purpose for your life as long as you say, “God, I want to do your will.”
God’s purpose is greater than any situation you will ever experience. God has a plan beyond the problems you are facing right now.
The point is this: It is dangerous to focus on your problems more than your purpose for living.
Faith in God’s promise:
Once you lose your goal, you will lose sight of the very meaning for which you exist; and you will become purposeless.
In Acts 27:25, Paul says, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.”
God keeps His promises without fail. Storms cannot hide our faces from God, because God is always with us. Storms cannot change the purpose of God, because it is ultimate. Storms cannot not destroy the child of God, because God’s promise is certain. So, HAVE FAITH!
Some of us are going through devastating crises right now. Our problems are overwhelming.
God says this to you: “You may lose cargo; you may lose the tackle of the ship; you may lose the ship; you may even get into deep waters and drown- but you are going to make it” because of the promise of God.
What we should do while waiting for the crisis to end? Anchor yourself of the truths of God and pray. Let His truth stabilize your life and give you the confidence you need in every life’s turbulence you face. Storms cannot hide God from you or you from God. God has a purpose for your life. There is a reason for it and you are going to make it safely to land.
Raging storms are one thing; subtle currents that catch you unaware are another. With the storm you’ve got to fight to stay alive. But with subtle currents, you don’t know what’s happening. Subtle currents can pull your boat without you knowing it until you realize you are already a long way from where you are supposed to be.
Life’s like that, every now and then we encounter life’s storms and real monster storms like Haiyan and subtle currents too when we are uncertain of what’s going to happen to us today, the next day or in days to come. In either case, let us make sure that we are firmly anchored to our faith in God for it is the ultimate anchor that we need and the only anchor that could save us from the strongest storms and the roughest seas.
As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “If your faith is fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself, a line no thicker than a spider’s web, it will hold your soul throughout time and eternity… For remember, it is not the thickness of this cable of faith, it is the strength of the anchor which imparts strength to the cable and so shall hold your ship in the midst of the most fearful storm.”