For the North End Community Ministry / food pantry visit or call (616) 454-1097.

We meet for worship at 214 Spencer Street NE. Directions.
Service begins Sundays at 10:00AM.

in the midst of the storm

In an article posted on The Gospel Coalition‘s website, Matt Smethurst quotes John Piper’s latest book called “Coronavirus and Christ”:

The same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.

It is impossible for a mere human to comprehend God’s wisdom fully. Even if God were to explain his plans and purposes, none of us could comprehend it all. God is too big and too vast for us to understand fully, yet God wants to be known. Since we cannot comprehend God fully, he must reveal himself in ways we can comprehend, which is what God has done in Christ.

One of my favorite passages in the Gospel According to John is the story of Jesus meeting the disciples in the middle of the storm (John 6:16-21). The disciples headed “across the sea to Capernaum”. John simply means they traveled via boat, not that they traveled to the opposite side of the sea. It was safer to do so, particularly at night. They intended to stay near the shore, and travel the few miles along the shore to their destination. This way they would not have to climb over loose rocks in the dark as they walked up and down the hills on their way over land.

What they had intended to be a safe, easy, and brief journey became a dangerous, arduous, and long journey. They had been rowing for hours because a storm had pushed them far from the shore and the waves were threatening them at every splash over their relatively tiny boat. Then Jesus showed up, walking on the water.

John, who was in the boat, says when Jesus stepped into the boat, they were immediately at their destination. Why did Jesus walk to them on the water? It was just two chapters earlier that John told the story of Jesus refusing to leave Cana to go to Capernaum in order to heal a royal official’s son. Instead of traveling the 25 miles to heal his son, Jesus simply declared the man’s son was well. John tells us that in that very moment, the son was healed. So why didn’t Jesus just stay on the shoreline and rescue the disciples? They were only three or four miles from shore—a far cry from the 25 miles away that Jesus performed the other miracle. He could have simply caused them to be at their destination without first going to them.

The truth is God allows storms and disasters. He allows coronaviruses and other outbreaks. We cannot comprehend his reasons and his purposes, at least not fully. God wants us to know him, though, so he reveals himself in ways we can comprehend. While our God is high and lifted up, majestic and exalted, yet he comes to us in the midst of the storm. We cannot know why he allows the storm to come, but we can know that he gets into our boat with us in the midst of it.

We all face different storms. As we pray today, let’s pray for one another. Pray for all those who call New City Church home. Pray for those who are struggling with depression or with finances. Pray for those who are feeling alone and isolated. Pray for marriages and for parents and children who may be feeling the pressures from this coronavirus’ impact. Pray for those who may be looking for work or find themselves temporarily laid off. Pray for our church’s impact in this community. Let’s pray and ask God to cause our church to grow even during this time we cannot assemble together. Pray that each one of us would experience a greater awareness of God’s presence in our lives. Let’s ask the Sovereign God to sustain our souls in the midst of whatever struggle or sorrow he allows.