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Encountering storms is an inevitable part of life; sometimes small, sometimes so huge we feel like they will swallow us whole. I myself am terrified of tornadoes, and I mean completely irrational, wet-your-pants terrified, so I can totally understand how these disciples felt. They were out on a huge expanse of water in a boat that was probably getting tossed around like a toy between the waves and the wind.
Surely, they thought, this was it. The end. And what was Jesus doing? Calmly sleeping in the midst of the chaos. Kind of like my husband, sitting in our living room watching TV when, on occasion, the tornado sirens do go off, and the rest of us are huddling terrified in the basement. He’s following the weather on radar and isn’t concerned at all. Yeah, really annoying.
I’m sure it seemed crazy to these disciples that Jesus wasn’t getting as worked up as they were—the danger was quite real. At the least, they probably wanted Jesus to acknowledge their situation and the intense fear they felt. Instead of comforting them, he asked a question that in the moment may have seemed even crazier. “Why are you afraid?” Wasn’t the answer obvious? The truth is, they didn’t yet fully understand who they were with. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Jesus slept through that storm on purpose.
It is interesting to note that the disciples called out “Save us, Lord; we are perishing,” yet when Jesus did what they asked, they were stunned. “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?” They asked Jesus for help, but didn’t have the faith to believe that He could actually change their situation. Don’t we do that sometimes? A lot of the time? We pray, asking for help to weather some stormy area of our lives, but in truth we lack faith. We don’t really believe God will reach down and help us.
If nothing else, this passage reminds us of who our God is. Yes, storms are inevitable in a fallen world. Jesus didn’t prevent the storm from happening. But He was with his disciples through the wind, the waves…and the fear, just as he is still with us through our trials today. We don’t face them alone, and while He allows them to teach us, He never lets us sink. He is bigger, and more powerful than any storm we will face, including the ultimate one, death. He is Jehovah Nissi, The LORD Our Banner, who goes before us into battle. And He is also Jehova Tsaba, The LORD Our Warrior, who fights for us. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31). So whatever storm you are in, pray with faith, and don’t be afraid. Your boat is cradled securely in God’s hands.
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