The disciples experienced several “mountaintop moments” in their time with Jesus. But when a storm arose while they were out on the Sea of Galilee, fear took over. In this moment, amidst the raging waves and the boat rocking, Jesus’ chosen followers failed to recall the lessons they had learned and the power and purposes of their leader. Even the appearance of Jesus walking on water didn’t bring immediate relief. In fact, they were terrified.
When life’s storms strike, we sometimes forget our knowledge of God, too. We struggle to recall past answers to prayer, specific guidance provided by the Holy Spirit and lessons learned in previous crises. Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream or heartbreak. And while these moments can be extremely difficult to go through, when we are grounded in faith and God’s truth, we can endure tough times.
In Tim Tebow’s new book, “Shaken” he talks about his journey to stay grounded in the face of criticism, disappointment and intense media scrutiny. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season. Tebow talks in detail about the heartbreaking moment he was released from the New England Patriots, a move that left the polarizing quarterback’s future in doubt. This was one of the roughest storms he had faced.
“As Coach [Belichick] continued to talk, using what I felt were blanket statements, my mind was bombarded by a number of overwhelming thoughts. Why wasn’t I enough? Should I have trained differently? Should I have spent more time studying? Or more time throwing? Is this it?”
This was unfamiliar territory for Tebow. In the Spring of 2012, he was traded from the Broncos to the Jets, a move that felt to him like a betrayal of sorts. A year later, the Jets let him go. This was a new pattern for him that he didn’t like. In that moment of frustration, fear and disappointment, Tebow shifted his thoughts toward God, the One who he believed had led him to New England.
I thought this was going somewhere special! I thought this was a plan You designed for me. If that was true, then why, God, why is this thing crashing and burning?
Walking out of the locker room and knowing the news of his release would be broadcast shortly to millions of Americans wasn’t easy. He pictured the thousands of letters, cards and emails he’d received from kids who looked up to him and rooted for him. He felt like he had failed them again. He put everything he had into training and it still wasn’t enough. Tebow knew God hadn’t left him and he knew He had a plan for his life. He also knew he still had a purpose. While his foundation in God was solid, much of what rested on top was shaken. He had no idea what the future would hold. This was the start of a new, but terrifying journey. He needed to discover who He was and build his confidence in His identity in God, not the world.
In the years following his release, there were many times when Tebow questioned who he was. At times he wondered, “Am I the person who won the Heisman Trophy,” and “Am I the person who has been told over and over again by so-called analysts that I can’t throw?” He discovered that identity comes not necessarily from who we are but whose we are. His true identity is as a child of God. He also discovered that who he was wasn’t based on others, on fitting in, on belonging to a certain crowd, or on living a certain lifestyle. His identity was based on belonging to God. No one can take that foundation from you.
When you’re enduring life’s storms, it’s important that you define who you are in God. Your foundation for who you are should be grounded in faith. In a God who loves you. In a God who gives you purpose. In a God who sees the big picture. In a God who always has a greater plan. You are a beautiful object of His love. God promises us He’ll provide a path through any trial we face. The disciples probably wondered how long the storm would last and whether they would make it safely to shore. Most likely, they wished it never happened. But, had they somehow avoided the storm, they would have missed the demonstration of Jesus’ power over the sea and wind. The frightening situation was transformed into a revelation of the Savior’s divine nature. God wants to make His power known through our trials, as well.
“When we are grounded in whose we are, not only can we handle the storms that come, but we can also begin to move forward in a more purposeful direction,” Tebow said. “We can begin to live in a new way. We can impact others even when our circumstances look bleak. We can use our stories to help others in their own.”
God has taught and continues to teach many things through life’s storms. He is teaching us how to live out of His strength by walking after His Spirit. Through faith, you will find your identity in Christ, which will calm the pounding waves that make you feel fearful, desperate or worthless. Jesus accepts us for who we are in Him rather than how we perform. This truth will calm your soul in the midst of failures.