In the storms of life….
When it comes to facing storms in life, I find that I am much more like Jesus’ disciples than I am like Jesus.
One evening, after a contentious and exhausting day of ministry, Jesus told His disciples to take Him across the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35). While they sailed across the lake a furious storm came upon them. Either Jesus did not know a storm would hit them, or He didn’t see a reason to avoid the storm.
Here’s the first point where I recognize a difference between my approach to storms and Jesus’ approach. I fear storms, so I try my best to avoid them. Jesus does not fear any storm, so He does not shy away from facing the storms of life. I am least like Jesus when I run away from the storms of life.
When the storm pummels them, with waves breaking over the boat, leaving the disciples terrified, where do they find Jesus? He is in the back of the boat, sleeping on a cushion. Doesn’t that match how we perceive God during the storms of our lives? When problems and fears invade our lives, we have the tendency to doubt the presence of God. We jump to the conclusion that God has left us alone to struggle through the difficulties of life while He is lagging behind somewhere. Or we figure that God has fallen asleep on the job.
When the disciples wake Jesus up and ask for His help, the question they ask of Him is phrased in a remarkably impersonal way. The N.I.V. translates Mark 4:38, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” But, in the actual Greek, the word they choose is the “impersonal” verb melei, which means “it is of concern.” The most accurate translation of their question would be: “Is it not of concern to You that we are perishing?” I recognize that when I am panicking in the storms of life, God seems less and less personal to me. I doubt where He is around. I doubt whether He cares. Sometimes I even go so far as to doubt whether He exists.
After Jesus calms the storm, He said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus addresses the vital truth about fear and faith: The two often go hand-in-hand. When I am most afraid, I am most lacking in faith; when I am most lacking in faith, I am most afraid.
Like the disciples, I do not tend to handle well the storms of life.
But Jesus…. Jesus is able to sleep even amidst the storm because His trust in God is far greater than His fear. He knew the truth of David’s words in Psalm 4:8: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Though fear causes us to question the presence of God, Jesus was not actually lagging behind. He was there with them. And He promises us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 & Deuteronomy 31:6).
Though panic causes us to doubt God’s concern for us, the gospels make it clear that Jesus concern for people was not impersonal but was so deep that He cried with people, that He ached in His gut for persons, that He became angry when others responded cold-heartedly to a person in need. He cares so deeply and personally that he gave His very life for us.
I want to remember these truths when I go through storms in my life. Then perhaps I won’t run away from storms but face them with faith.