Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
My life is getting more and more difficult. It seems that everything I do is a struggle. I pray to God to make things smoother but it seems that life is just getting rougher. I feel like I’m slogging my feet through deep sand. It’s not more than I can bear but it sure seems that way. Can you help me?
Let me answer your query by referring to a Bible story with principles that have guided me for years. It’s amazing how some truths stick with you for a lifetime.
I believe that if these truths have worked well for me, they’ll work for you, too!
After feeding the 5000, Jesus instructed his disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus dismissed the crowds and then went to a quiet place to pray. But things were not going well on the boat.
“But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary” (Matthew 14: 24) (KJV).
“For the wind was contrary.” In other words, it was blowing the wrong way.
Kyle, you’re not alone. Most all of us, at one time or another, are torn by winds blowing the wrong way. Wherever we turn, the wind seems against us.
Contrary winds can blow from any direction. Broken homes, loss of jobs, sickness, death, accidents, children who don’t turn out right, parents who should never be parents, marriages that break and cause great heartache, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse roar and rage against us.
The winds on the Sea of Galilee were ferocious that night. The Disciples wanted to go west toward home. They were being blown back east!
Sometimes, no matter which direction we turn, were always fighting a headwind.
Let me share some truths about contrary winds in the hope that you will be better able to withstand them.
First, contrary winds come to all Christians.
I’ve heard some imply that if you’re a Christian you should never have to struggle.
Nothing could be further from the truth. All Christians feel the wind at times blowing against them!
Cares go with having a body. Cares go with having a family. When my friends weep, I weep. We have cares because we are fighting Satan. Satan’s fighting us!
Don’t ever think that because you’re a Christian and because you have cares, that you’re abnormal. All of God’s people have cares.
In Psalm 73, Asaph is going through a rough time. It seems that his unbelieving friends have more blessings than he. He complains that their kids are healthy and his are sick. Their houses are in great shape and his roof is caving in. His non-Christian friends are being promoted and he’s worked the same job for years.
He almost concludes that if God really cared, he wouldn’t be fighting a headwind.
So Asaph declared, “It’s not worth it for me to be a believer!”
God replied, “Your problem is that you’re looking in the present. Look on down the line!”
Asaph then tells us, “I went into the sanctuary of the Lord and I opened my eyes and saw that God had placed the unbelievers on slippery places.”
Contrary winds might blow in our faces but, no Christian ever stands in a slippery place. It might be a hard place, but it’s not a slippery place because our feet are on the rock.
Second, contrary winds often strengthen us for more difficult things.
When winds blow against us it’s a challenge to rise up and walk anyway.
A contrary wind blew away John Milton’s eyesight. He stood against the wind and wrote, “Paradise Lost.”
Contrary winds destroyed my daughter Brianna's health. She writhes in constant pain and writes with all of her heart. She has now raised a billion dollars for non-profit ministries. Only God could have given her the strength to stand in the storm.
Contrary winds blowing against us today strengthen us to do greater things for God tomorrow.
Third, contrary winds often blow us to something better.
A contrary wind blew Paul from a life of Christian-hating, scheming, murdering, Pharisee to the greatest Christian messenger God ever had.
A ship sank leaving one lone survivor. Days passed with no rescue. He built a shack, still no rescue. One day he his cook-fire burned out of control and burned down his hut and all of his possessions. “What else could be worse? This is the worst day of my life!” Then he heard a ship’s horn and a small boat coming to shore. “Ahoy!” they shouted. “We saw your smoke and have come to rescue you!”
We’ll find that contrary winds, those troubles and heartaches which hurt us so much, will often blow us to something better if we’ll just open our eyes to see it!
Finally, contrary winds bring Jesus to us!
Contrary winds brought the disciples troubles and problems. But, in the midst of contrary winds, here came Jesus walking on the water.
Peter asked, “May I come to you walking on the water?”
When trouble comes, when life falls in, then look up and see Jesus because contrary winds will bring Jesus to us every time.
Jesus comes when the winds are contrary winds because He cares for us.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Lay hold of that! Christians have cares and Jesus cares for us.
Kyle, I hope you are at peace knowing that contrary winds are normal for Christians. Rejoice that they often strengthen us and that their gale force brings us to better things. Finally, I hope you’ll experience the care of Jesus whenever the winds are contrary.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese.His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.