She was the most anxious person I believe I’ve ever met. We’d been talking for several weeks about the long list of apprehensions plaguing this 30-something wife and mom. Because she said her faith was strong, I’d pointed her to multiple scriptures about fear and peace, including a passage in Mark 4 where Jesus quieted a dreadful storm on the Sea of Galilee.
“What do you think Jesus might say to you about the fearful storms raging in your heart?” I asked her. She couldn’t think of anything, but sometime later she reported with uncharacteristic enthusiasm that she had heard Jesus speak to her spirit. I could hardly wait to hear. “What did you hear Jesus say?” I asked. Her answer surprised and delighted me.
“Shhhhhhhh!” the sweet lady replied.
I thought about my visits with this woman recently when our contemplative prayer group meditated on the story of a fierce storm. The disciples of Jesus, frightened by the terrific wind and waves, were equally amazed by the ability of their teacher to quiet the raging sea with a simple command. (See Mark 4:36-41)
We all encounter ferocious storms at some point in life. Ours may be physical, emotional, relational, financial or spiritual. Whatever the storm, I believe the story reported in Mark’s gospel provides lessons for you and me.
The Sea of Galilee was peaceful when we were in Israel, but we heard stories about the sudden and fierce storms that arise. Sunrise over the Sea was captured by Ron during a pre-dawn photo excursion.
The disciples had reason to be afraid. They were overwhelmed with fear because very real waves were crashing very real water into their very real boat. Without intervention the disciples feared their ability and resources were inadequate to withstand the ferocity of this squall.
Like the disciples, we too experience very real, inconvenient, disturbing, and possibly even dangerous storms filled with the potential for grave, life-altering outcomes.
The men on this boat were seasoned fishermen. They had grown up on the Sea of Galilee and were familiar with unpredictable and vicious storms. Yet, despite their experience and expertise, this tempest was beyond their control.
Some storms simply seem too overwhelming for even conscientious and capable folks to manage. We may have good knowledge and a great support system, and yet, we still cannot see a way out.
And, while the disciples were scared spitless, what was Jesus doing?
The disciples were frustrated with Jesus for sleeping during their storm because, I imagine, on some level, they had enough faith to know Jesus COULD STOP the storm if he wanted to do so. When they wakened him, their accusatory question was, “Don’t you care…?”
I don’t know about you, but more than once I’ve wondered if my storm mattered to God. I pray. I know God is capable to doing ANYTHING, and yet when NOTHING positive happens to remedy my situation, I’ve thought, “Don’t you care, God?”
It would be easy to criticize the disciples. Hadn’t they had a front row seat watching Jesus perform great miracles? It’s difficult, though, no matter how mature our faith may be, to remember God’s faithfulness, to grasp hold of God’s grace when crashing waves threaten our security.
Jesus didn’t fret about weather conditions. Instead, he instructed the raging tumult to stop. The command left the disciples feeling a different type of terror— wondering just who was this man named Jesus?
When Jesus calmed the Sea, he understood the future of his beloved disciples. In less than three years, their lives would change dramatically. They would need to be able to recall power, such as that demonstrated on the Sea, to help them navigate many frightening situations.
I can imagine sometime later. The same friends, sitting around an evening fire, discussing and strategizing dire conditions faced by the early Christian church. I can almost hear one say, “Hey, guys, remember that time on the Sea when Jesus calmed the raging storm. Don’t you think if he saved us then, he’s able to help us now?”
Here’s a truth I’ve learned when I’m on the other side of a particularly tumultuous life season. Even though I may never know “why” God allowed me to go through a painful situation, always, I catch glimpses of divine grace and goodness, and my faith expands.
Like the disciples, I believe increasingly:
despite future storms, I’ll be given the help I need to keep following;
Jesus’ power is beyond my comprehension; and
God—Father, Son and Spirit—is trustworthy.
May you be blessed with grace, mercy and peace through any storm…