Before a ship is put into commission, the crew takes it out for its shakedown cruise. They attempt to emulate the worst of all possible circumstances the vessel may face. In short, the crew pushes the ship to its absolute limit to prove it can endure the highest seas, the hottest battle and the grimmest conditions. Not only does this voyage prove the ship, it conditions the crew to function as a unit under stress. Any weaknesses exposed in vessel or crew are corrected. Only then is the ship labelled seaworthy, and more importantly, storm-worthy.
God puts us through shakedown cruises. He turns up the heat, allows the storm to rage and plunges us into darkness. He seemingly removes his presence, allows our prayers to sound hollow and does not act immediately against injustice. He shakes us down now for what is to come later. Many people in the Bible had shakedown cruises: Abraham, Moses, Joseph and Job. Job might be called the poster-child for God’s shakedowns.
Job had an idea of God’s intent when he said, “But he knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (23:10). It is likely that very few things Job faced after his trial seemed unbearable to him. His faith in God was purified. Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” Once we have been shaken well, we have a better understanding of how trustworthy God is.
In an often-repeated story, a woman on a cruise ship contacted the captain with a concern about the rough waters they were experiencing. She was certain that they were facing imminent danger. The captain’s response was, “This ship was built with this storm in mind.”
Maybe you’re being shaken. If not, just wait a little while; it’s coming. Deep shaking through trials will come for all who truly know Christ, but take heart. God is building your ship with some things in mind: the worst storm you’ll face here and the glorious harbor you’ll enter there.
We will weather all of our storms by trusting in the presence and power of God. – Isaiah 43:2a When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…
We will place our ultimate dependence upon nothing other than God. – Psalm 62:2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
We will find the strength for every need in Christ. – Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.