A Sermon Written by HOMER L. COX and distributed during the influenza epidemic of 1918, when public meetings were prohibited.
Osborne, Byron L., ed. Homer L. Cox, The Man and His Messages. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Bible Institute.

This is The Quaker Homiletic Online Anthology, Part 4: The 20th Century

This morning we shall read for our Scripture lesson Matt. 14:22-24, and our text will be the last clause of the 24th verse, "The winds were contrary."

The hungering multitudes have been bountifully fed and sent to their homes in the surrounding villages the disciples have embarked for their voyage across the sea; and, as was His custom after a trying day of toil, or before a day of great responsibility, the Saviour has composed His soul in the solitudes of the mountain alone in prayer. Rapt in holy converse with His heavenly Father, the first three watches of the night have passed almost unheeded. But the cries of distress always catch the ear of [the] Deity, though engaged in the loftiest pursuits; and in the heights of his communion He perceives His despairing disciples battling on the bosom of the deep with threatening waves and contrary winds. The ever compassionate heart of Christ responds, and, superior to the laws of nature He speeds His way across the waters to their rescue. This significant account is full of comfort for us who today are struggling across the sea of life, in the teeth of a gale that beats fiercely upon our bark.

Just now the "Contrary Winds" which we are called upon to face are the winds of physical illness. With a blighting plague sweeping over our city, doctors difficult and nurses almost impossible to secure, working forces almost depleted, all public meetings forbidden, the largest auditorium in the city, usually a scene of gaiety and pleasure now turned int a charnel house, and what seems worst of all the houses of prayer closed until the very silence of their bells is oppressive with all the pain and suffering, our hearts heavy with fear and threatened with sorrow, we long for the form of the Son of God to appear in the storm and quiet the waves.

The "Winds of War" have been blowing fiercely across the sea of our lives until the thunder of their roar has filled the whole earth. And what treasures have been sucked into their devouring vortex! The flower of the manhood of the nations; untold treasures of money; treasures of the field; treasures of the laboratory; treasures of the home, the cradle, and the fireside; treasures of the past and present and for the generations of the future are swallowed up in the hungry waves of this terrible maelstrom until we are made to wonder if the whole shp of civilization will capsize.

The bold "Cross Winds" of spiritual unbelief and infidelity blow until the warm pulse of faith seems almost to congeal and our zeal and fervour to be frozen.

Winds of discouragement blow upon some as they see evil so strong, intrenched, and righeousness apparently so impotent.

Upon some of you there may be blowing the distressing winds of family discord, and those whom you love and for whom you feel the gravest responsibility seem oblivious to your entreaties and prayers.

Winds of temptation may be pressing hard upon some, and in spite of there efforts they may feel themselves veering from the straight course in which they know they should steer.

Others may be contending with the "contrary winds" of financial adversity, until the very necessities of life are in jeopardy. To some to whom this message comes the winds and the waves may be sounding a dirge,, and the silent undertow of sorrow over a departed loved one makes the voyage hard indeed and all life seems pitched to a minor key.

To any on whom these or other winds are blowing our hearts go out in deepest love and sympathy. We realize that when one member suffers the whole body suffers with it. We pray that out of these affliction may come a closer walk and a greater devotion to the Lord and His work and that in the midst of the storm there may bee seen the form of the Son of God approaching, and there may be heard His voice speaking the comforting words, "It is I, be not afraid." He only is King of the tempest. Look to Him, call upon Him, trust in Him and He will come and speak to your heart.

But, says someone, "Will he really speak tome?" Listen to Him as He speaks to you through His word. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear though the earth be removed, and tough the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: though the waters thereof road and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a city the river [and] the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms removed; he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth; he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."

Are not these words of the Psalmist a message to us today? And do they not bring us peace and comfort in the storm?

But, says another, "Will he really come to me as He came to His disciples on the sea?" Dear soul, have you not read the tender message to His sorrowing friends as He was preparing to leave them? "I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOR EVER, even the Spirit of Truth." Oh, the word of the Lord is true, the Lord of Hosts will be with us, Praise His Name!

Not only will the Saviour come and speak peace to our hearts and quiet the waves within, though the storms continue without. We may rejoice to believe the time is fast approaching when He will return to earth in bodily form, and across the darkness and storm of tempest [and] woe, He will hasten to His people to quiet the waves of sin and suffering by His matchless power, and command the hounds of the sea t lie still at his feet while he rules the earth in righteousness. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus."

Until then let us improve every opportunity to speak a helpful word to the needy ones about us. May we be much in prayer, seeking His will and listening careful to His voice in His word.

Trusting that these "light afflictions" will "work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen."

"Wonderful Jesus, [I] need Thee, out in the storm and
   the strife,
Oft it has seemed I was sinking, tossed on the ocean
   of life.
Speak to the winds and the waters, each thy behest
   must fulfill.
Speak to my heart in the tempest, whispering softly,
   be still.
When I am toiling and rowing, almost engulfed in
   the sea,
Make of the billows a pathway, come through the
   darkness to me.
Failures and terrors will vanish, soon as I know thou
   art nigh,
Say to my soul in its danger, 'Be not afraid; it
   is I.'"

Lovingly, your Pastor and Wife.