How to Transition Well from a Difficult Life Season
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? ‘” (Mark 4:35-40).
Does anyone feel they have been snatched out of the fire of the last few years, smelling of smoke but grateful to be alive? Has anyone been saved in the nick of time from impossible circumstances, or braved through in the face of pain, loss, and a world turned upside down?
Does anyone else want to just leave it all behind and never look backward? Anyone else look forward to standing on the shore of safety and shouting back at the sea of medical, social, political and financial storms and say, in the words of that famous song – “Hello, from the other side!”
You thought you’d stop me, but…Hello from the other side! You thought you’d take me out, that I’d lose my faith and give up on Jesus. You thought I’d stop fighting, that you’d stolen my hope and my destiny. You thought you’d crushed my dreams. You thought I’d lose my mind. But I’ve just got one thing to say to you, storm…Hello from the other side!
But making it through the storm is only the first step. To experience God’s best in this next season of our lives, you and I must be able to transition well. Because transition, in and of itself, does not guarantee blessing in the next season.
The children of Israel left Egyptian slavery through the Red Sea to freedom, and then got stuck wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. They didn’t transition well.
People routinely go from being single to being married, but that doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage. They must transition well.
Young adults graduate from college and become full-time employees, but that doesn’t guarantee a successful career. They too must transition well.
Crossing Over to the Other Side
Let’s imagine for a moment that the Sea of Galilee is life, and that the sudden storm that hit Jesus and the disciples is the crazy things we have all experienced these last couple of years. The “other side” is the beginning of this next new, post-crisis season of life.
In the story, Jesus was exhausted from all that He’s been doing. He has just finished preaching an eight-hour sermon and opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, healing lepers and dealing with the attacks and traps of the Pharisees. He is exhausted and quite frankly, so are the disciples. And He tells His disciples when they get in the boat…let’s cross over to the other side.
Translation: I need a break. After Jesus goes to sleep in the stern of the boat, a life threatening storm suddenly erupts. It is so treacherous, they take on water and the disciples feared they were going to capsize. The disciples awaken Jesus…Hey, don’t you care that we are all going to die?!
As Jesus gets up out of a dead sleep, He says three words… “Peace be still!” The storm submits to the superior power of Christ, and they all make it safely to the other side.
Just like some of us... We made it through all the craziness and have put our feet on the virgin soil of a new season. We are ready to begin to pen another chapter in our life story.
But making it through is only the first step. Remember, we must transition well…which means we can’t just forget everything we’ve been through. Moreover, to transition well we must carry into the next season three lessons learned from the storms we’ve been through.
1. The Presence of Storms Doesn’t Mean the Absence of God Storms usually cause us to ask “where is God?” Somewhere we have gotten the idea that if God were present, we would not have to experience storms. Even the disciples forgot Jesus was in their boat. They were experiencing a storm and they panicked; they forgot that the presence of a storm does not mean the absence of God. It doesn’t mean God’s abandoned you or given up on you. A storm doesn’t mean God doesn’t care. It means: - Even if your boat is taking on water you will not sink - Even though your boat is getting rocked, you will not be shipwrecked - Even though the storm is sudden, it didn’t surprise God - Even though the winds of adversity are howling loudly, they will not have the last word It means: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you” (Isaiah 43:2).
And when you make it to the other side, you will have a storm story to share for His glory. Yes, more storms will come, but the next time you will know that in the storm you can lean on Jesus. He is your refuge in every storm.
2. Faith Works by Love
Clearly, the disciples questioned Jesus’ love! When they woke up Jesus, they asked him this question: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” To which Jesus responded, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Think about these two questions.
Question 1 – Lord, don’t You care? What a question to ask the God of the universe who has left His throne to come down to earth, and subjected Himself to the limitations of our humanity. What a question to ask the Savior of the world who came to earth to die in our place on a cross, to bear the penalty of our sin so we wouldn’t have to! Lord… don’t You care? As bizarre a question as that is, it’s the question we all ask when we’re in a storm. It is the place where the enemy wants to sink our faith. After He rescued them, He asked them something far more important:
Question 2– How is it that you have no faith? Now, I don't believe that Jesus was annoyed that they woke Him up; after all, we are supposed to take our cares and burdens to the Lord in prayer.
I believe that Jesus was annoyed that they did not have faith in how much He loved them and cared for them. Jesus was saying… How is it that you don’t have faith in Me? Or in how much I care for and love you? Jesus was saying, if you have faith in My love and faith in My care for you, you would trust that no matter how bad the storm is, you are going to make it to the other side!
What He was saying is something we too need to lean into to make it to the other side. Next time the storm comes, lean into His love and care. When you don’t understand and can’t see your way through, and the storm doesn’t respond to your prayers, you will know that it’s just a matter of time before you say... - I don’t know how I’m going to get these bills paid... but I understand He loves me. - I don’t know how I’m going to move on after this... but I understand He loves me. - I don’t understand why this has happened to me... but I understand He loves me. - I don’t know how I’m going to make it... but I know He loves me. - I can’t see my way out... but I understand He love me. - I am afraid... but I understand He loves me. - I’m confused by the circumstances... but I’m confident He loves me. In other words, if we know how much He loves us, faith in Him will see us through every storm. Our faith will work if it’s anchored in His love for us.
3. What Satan Sent to Stop You, God Will Use to Strengthen You
When Jesus said, Let's crossover to the other side, a sudden storm was sent to kill them. I believe it is no coincidence that as soon as they got on the other side, they were met by man there who was possessed with a legion of demons that no one could help.
In other words, Satan sent that storm to stop them from setting that man free. In fact, it seems that is the number one reason Satan sends storms our way. Storms come to stop us from fulfilling our assignment, to block us from setting people free, to prevent us from walking in our destiny and fulfilling our purpose. And so he sends storms to stop us.
Did you notice that Jesus did not warn the disciples about the storm beforehand? Certainly He could have, yet He just let them sail into the storm.
I believe Jesus wanted to use the experience as a teaching tool. He demonstrated that any storm that He doesn’t stop from coming our way, cannot stop us! In fact, if He doesn’t stop it, He’s going use it for our good (Romans 8:28).
What the disciples witnessed during the storm and what they watched Jesus do for the man became foundational to their faith throughout their lives and ministries. I believe they were being trained for their mission by everything sent to stop them. God used the very storms that the devil sent to stop them, to instead demonstrate God's power and authority, and to make them stronger.
Stronger for the Storm
When the pandemic first hit, many Christian churches were caught by surprise, as unprecedented lockdown measures caused church doors to shutter worldwide. The fear and confusion which this storm brought stopped many Christians from walking out the Great Commission. But I can say now, that as a pastor, I am so very proud of my Faith Church congregation!
This storm did not stop them, or break them down; rather, it spurred them into action! Our food pantry ministry kicked into high gear. We gave out (literally) tons of groceries to our hurting community, purchased and distributed thousands of dollars of hot meals from local small business restaurants and gave them away also. Our discipleship program and prayer ministry quickly adapted to zoom meetings. Our deacons' ministry made grocery and pharmacy pick-up and deliveries to elderly and immune compromised people... and so much more!
And the most amazing thing has happened in our church. In the midst of economic freefall, our people never stopped giving! They watched our online church services from home and continued to participate in worship by giving online. Not only has our church ministry come through intact, but the testimonies from individuals who made it to the other side of this global storm just keep pouring in!
So if you are still going through the storm, let me encourage you to remain faithful. You will not be the same as you were when the storm first came. You'll be stronger. You'll be better. You'll be wiser.
So declare to your storm... I'm ready. And I’m determined to lean into what I’ve learned as I transition well into my next season. Hello from the Other Side!
______________________________________________________________________________________________________Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Finding Christ in Crisis: Lessons We Learned From Covid. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc.