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
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 "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.