Have you ever been afraid? I still remember one particular experience as a Boy Scout in 6thgrade. We were asked to rappel down a 40 ft rock wall. It was at this point I discovered my moderate to severe fear of heights. After much patience and encouragement from my scout leaders I made the terrifying initial step back over the edge and rappelled down the side of the cliff. As I grew into adulthood, I learned that our fears grow as well into things often less simple than a fear of heights. The list of things we are afraid of expand to include health concerns, relational issues, finances, and even the ambiguous future.
In Mark 4 we read of a situation that had Jesus’ disciples terrified. After a long day of preaching and ministry Jesus and the disciples set out for a quiet cruise across the Sea of Galilea. A simple 8-mile trip that promised to be uneventful. But this serene setting was quickly upset by a violent windstorm. The strong winds created waves that began to fill the small fishing boat and threatened to drown everyone onboard. The disciples began to panic. Four of which were veteran fishermen which indicates the severity of the storm.
And so, the disciples turn to Jesus for help. But their plea for aid is veiled in a mild rebuke. “Jesus! Do you not care that we are perishing?!” The urgent request from the disciples forces Jesus to wake up from His nap. Yes, you read that correctly, Jesus was asleep during all of this in the back of the boat. He gets up, rubs the sleep out of His eyes, and simply asks the wind and waves to be quiet. Instantly there was a great calm on the water.
Jesus then turns to the disciples and offers them a mild rebuke. “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” At this the disciples move from fear of the storm to fear of the person in the boat with them. They are now filled with great fear and ask, “who is this?”
Our lives are full of storms as well. And many of these storms can be incredibly intense. As a result no one would blame us for being afraid. No one would fault you for being afraid of receiving a cancer diagnosis, a message from your spouse saying he or she is leaving, a prodigal son or daughter who moves further away from God, a notice that your company is downsizing, and you are not part of the future. Any of these situations would create a genuine response of fear.
Furthermore, when these storms come upon us quickly, we may cry out like the disciples, “Jesus do you not care that I am suffering? Do you not see that I am going through this trial? Where are you?” We may even wonder if God is simply asleep!
But in Mark 4 we see that we actually do not need to be afraid. Jesus is with us in the boat. He has not left us. He is still sovereign and in control. At any point He can make the wind and waves stop. But sometimes, and more often than we would like, He lets the storm rage on. And it is through these seasons He calls us to trust Him. He calls us to remember promises found in places like Romans 8:28, 32; Romans 5:3 – 5; James 1:2 – 4; Hebrews 12:7 – 11, 1 Peter 1:6,7; Isaiah 41:10; 2 Corinthians 4:17.
In each of these passages we read that everything that happens to us is ultimately for our good and God’s glory. God does not allow one thing into our lives that will not be used to refine us, draw us closer to Him, and prepare a glorious future for us.
So, when the storms rage around you, take heart. Know that Jesus is with you and has a plan for even the severest of storms. Dig deep into God’s Word and take your focus off of the strength of the storm and on the sovereign rule of your Savior who loves you. And then, follow the advice of Paul in Philippians 4. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.