Peace in Storms

When I was younger, I was terrified of tornadoes. I don’t know why that was, exactly. I was never actually in one, but I had heard plenty about them. I knew how dangerous they could be. Minnesota is at the northern edge of Tornado Alley, which means that while we don’t get as many tornadoes as, say, Oklahoma, we still got our fair share. Every time the sirens went off, we would rush to the basement, and I would do my best to keep it together.

I suspect the disciples may have felt the same way one day on the Sea of Galilee. Mark has the full story:

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

I don’t think I would have been able to handle that. It was bad enough having to go into a basement in the middle of a bad storm. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be trapped in the middle of a lake while a storm, one that could easily destroy you, rages overhead. It’s no wonder that they were so freaked out. I would be. You would be too.

But what made matters worse was that Jesus was taking a nap in the back of the boat. Here the disciples were, scared out of their mind, sure that they were going to get killed, and Jesus is sound asleep. How could He do that? Why wasn’t He doing something about the storm? Didn’t He care about them at all?

Lightning flashes across the beach from a powerful stormWe may feel the same way at times. We too can be surrounded by storms in life. Sometimes they’re literal storms (like the ones that would occasionally send my family to the basement). Usually, though, these storms are metaphorical, the difficult situations that we find ourselves in from time to time. We’re surrounded by the wind and rain, the forces that seemed arrayed against us, ready to swamp our little boats. And rather than intervene, God stays silent. He’s napping. He doesn’t seem at all aware of our predicament, or, if He is, He must not care that much.

That’s what the disciples though, at any rate. Eventually they decided to snap Jesus out of His slumber and woke Him up. Jesus took one look at the storm around them and basically told the forces of nature to knock it off. He tells them to be still, to be at peace. And the winds and waves obey His Word.

The disciples are astounded by this (and well they should be!), but I think we should pay attention to what Jesus says after the sea has gone calm once again. He gently rebukes the disciples and asks why they were so freaked out.

It seems like an odd thing to ask them. Well, duh, Jesus. Why do You think we were so scared? Storm, wind, rain, all that jazz? Why wouldn’t we be afraid?

But Jesus’ question points to a deeper truth: the disciples didn’t have to be afraid because, through the entire storm, Jesus was with them the whole time. Yes, He was seemingly unaware of what was happening, but that didn’t mean that the disciples had to be worried. Jesus is still in control. He still had the situation well in hand. The disciples could trust Him to take care of them, no matter how hard the winds and waves raged.

That’s important for us to remember as we go through the storms of life. We too may be tempted to cry out to Jesus for help when the metaphorical storms rage around us. That’s actually okay; God encourages prayer, after all. But we should remember, during those difficult times, that sometimes Jesus will speak to the storms around us and tell them to be still. But I think just as often, Jesus speaks those words to us and encourages us to have peace and be still, because He is still with us, even through the storms.

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