Sometimes, this life is just more than any of us can handle. It doesn't matter who you are, what you do, how much talent you have in one particular area or another. At any given moment, this world can just become too much for you. Even in the areas of your seeming expertise. Then what?
I was reading this morning in Psalm 107, and the story of these sailors struck me. Picking it up in verse 23:
Those who sail on the sea in ships, who do business on the high seas, have seen what the Lord can do, the miracles he performed in the depths of the sea. He spoke, and a storm began to blow, and it made the waves rise high. The sailors aboard the ship rose toward the sky. They plunged into the depths. Their courage melted int he face of disaster. They reeled and staggered like drunks, and all their skills as sailors became useless. (emphasis mine)
These guys are the professionals. Sailing is what they do. It's their business, their livelihood, the source of all their income. They spend more time on the sea than they do on the land. They're probably more comfortable in the hull than they are in their own homes. And, in general, they know what to do with rough seas.
Except this time, they don't. This time, the waves are just too rough. This time, the winds are just too harsh. All of a sudden, at God's command, they're tossed about like playthings in a pool. (That's a miracle, by the way, but not the miracle the v. 24 refers to. I think.) Anyway, it's interesting to read that all their skills as sailors became useless.
This means...they tried everything. They hoisted the mast and...unhoisted the mast. They steered into the winds and they steered away from them. They shifted loads and probably even threw some of the cargo overboard, the way we see other sailors do in other Bible narratives. They probably grabbed the oars and tried by hand and brute strength to steer the ship. And...whatever else professional sailors do. And none of it mattered. None of it did a bit of good. Absolutely everything they knew about sailing was useless in the face of this storm.
Which means...it happens.
It happens that sometimes, the storms are just bigger than we are. Sometimes, the waves are just too high. Sometimes, the winds are just too strong. Sometimes, this life is just more than we can handle, even if we are supposed to be the experts in our fields. Even if we're the very best at what we do.
It's okay. Do you believe that?
Because there's help coming from a gracious God. Let's pick back up the story of the sailors:
In their distress they cried out to the Lord. He led them from their troubles. He made the storm calm down, and the waves became still. The sailors were glad that the storm was quiet. He guided them to the harbor they had longed for.
This...is one of the things I love about God. The sailors, having tried everything and failed, cry out to Him, and He calms the storm. But then, He sets them right back to sailing. He calms the winds and the waves, but he only guides the ship to harbor; the sailors still have to do the work. They still have to sail the ship into safety, into port. In the very same breath in which they cry out, We can't do this, the God of the universe reassures them, Yes, you can.
And with Him, they do.
They are still very good sailors, still the very best at what they do. They're professionals; this is their life. But every now and then, they need to remember that even the very best need someone greater. They need their God.