Float with me back to a boat on the Sea of Galilee, a body of water 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills. The topography lends itself to creating violent and unexpected storms as winds blow over the land and intensify close to the sea. As evening approaches, Jesus gets in boat and says to the disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” Shortly into the journey, one of those fierce storms comes upon them. High waves break into the boat, filling it with water.
I’m already relating to this story, how about you? It’s interesting how quickly storms can hit our life. We may be merrily rowing along on our pleasant little journey and without any warning an unexpected storm changes everything, and we feel as though we are sinking fast. Been there? Perhaps you have had several little storms, or maybe you have had a major life-changing storm which will mark your life forever. Whatever your storm, great or small, don’t forget Jesus is in the boat with you.
The gospel of Mark goes on to tell us that Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The desperate and frantic disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” In the middle of your storm you may have prayed that same thing. I suppose it is hard for us to imagine that Jesus allows us to go through the storm. “Don’t you care that this is happening to me? Where are you? Why are you sleeping?” we say to the Lord. Even though it seems like Jesus is sleeping, he does care about your situation, just as he cared for the disciples in the boat.
Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm. Jesus then had a question for the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?” I believe the disciples were filled with anxiety and fear because they still didn’t seem to understand who Jesus was and what He could do. After Jesus calmed the storm, they proclaimed, “Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey him?” Jesus, the Son of God and creator of all, was in the boat with them. They had a choice to be filled with terror or to trust the power of God. We too have a choice to panic or to pray when we face fearful and unexpected storms. Jesus does care and He is in the boat with us. He may not take away the entire storm, but He can give us a peace and a calm in the midst of it.
In my simplistic way of seeing life, it seems to me that if Jesus is in charge of the weather, couldn’t he have just made it smooth sailing the whole way? Wouldn’t it have been easier on the boat and on the disciple’s nerves to just skip the storm altogether and travel safely to the other side? Yet, how could the disciples’ faith grow unless they experienced God’s miraculous power themselves? Because of the storm, the disciples were able to see the mighty hand of God at work. They learned more about who Jesus was and what He was capable of doing through the storm, not the calm. They also learned that they could depend on Him no matter what happened for they knew He was able to handle it.
Unexpected storms will come in our lives. The question is will we try to ride it out on our own in a state of panic, or will we go to Jesus first seeking his peace and help? Jesus is in the boat with us and will never leave us. As we get to know Jesus better through studying the Bible and abiding in prayer, we begin to recognize and trust His mighty power and His ability to save us.