God Was in Our Boat
One of my favorite sites in Israel is the Sea of Galilee. It’s a great experience to take a boat ride across its calm and quiet waters. Although we know its reputation of violent, sudden storms, we still venture out.
Being a follower of Christ does not immunize us against trouble. Our lives are still susceptible to sudden “storms.” But we venture out anyway, trusting God who promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you” (Isa. 43:2).
Like the storms on the Sea of Galilee that come furiously without warning, three major storms, all within a year’s time, hit my wife and me unexpectedly several years ago. But we knew that Jesus, the God-Man, calmed the wind and waves with His word. He never abandoned His disciples in their time of trouble. Therefore, we knew He was with us, and we clung to the promise, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lᴏʀᴅ your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Dt. 31:6).
The first storm that rocked our boat was four years ago when I was diagnosed with a cancer called multiple myeloma. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was engrossed in producing the gospel movie Rossvally: From the Synagogue to the Saviour. I was completely absorbed in writing, rewriting, acting, and doing all that is involved in film-making. I went to the doctor for my normal checkup and learned I had cancer. Because I was so wrapped up in the project, I felt no symptoms. We were shocked. Why would God allow this to happen now?
During the long, intense treatments and through the horrid “mind fog” caused by powerful, toxic medications, I struggled to read the book of Psalms. There were many passages that sustained me. Since I portrayed a military surgeon in the film, I personalized Psalm 20:7. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ our God.” In my devotions I viewed the chariots and horses as all my healthcare workers and medical treatments. Although they were all great and needful, I leaned on the Word that spoke of the Lord as my ultimate help: “My help comes from the Lᴏʀᴅ, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2).
About a month later, the second wave of distress hit. My wife, Janis, suddenly felt her right arm and leg go limp. It turned out two bone spurs in her neck were pinching her spinal cord. It was so serious the doctor felt her spinal cord would snap. She cried over the phone as she told me. Never had I felt so helpless.
Five days later, she was on the operating table. All went well, but for six months Janis had to wear a special neck brace. Despite all her discomfort, she continued to care for me. It was the Word that gave her strength and comfort: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28–30).
Eight months later, while I spent 19 days in the hospital for a particularly difficult treatment, our third stormy wave hit. Alzheimer’s disease had overcome Janis’s dear mother. Through the years, as she lived with us, we gradually saw the disease coming on. It eventually became almost unbearable to watch this sweet lady transform into someone who was constantly negative. There were times when Janis thought she could not handle it anymore.
Yet, through it all, she leaned on the comfort of the Lord’s voice through His Word. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
Eventually, these distressing circumstances began to subside. God’s Word was like the balm of Gilead to us. Through it, He told us that He was in our boat, so to speak. The storms would not overcome us. The Lord helped us through. The many prayers of God’s faithful people also gave us the added strength to stay afloat. “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still” (Ps. 107:29). Praise His holy name.