He Can Calm Your Storm
Winter storms can be fine when you are tucked in bed but not when a sudden storm comes upon you and you are in one of the valleys or maybe out at sea. The truth is that storms are part of life – and we all have them now and again.
In Mark 4:35-41 we read the account of when the disciples are caught in a storm. The boat was in the Gospel is a symbol of the Christian community and the Christian’s life. So what happens to the disciples when they are in the boat are also symbols of what happens in our lives.
A furious (mega) squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” (he uses the same words he uses for the demons ‘be muzzled’) .Then the wind died down and it was completely (mega) calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were filled with fear (phobeomai – feared a mega fear) and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
So we have a great storm, a great calm and a great fear!
What can we learn and apply from this passage?
No Promise of A storm Free Journey
Following the Lord is no guarantee that we will not have storms – after all they went to the other side because Jesus said so. The eastern side of the Sea of Galilee was unfamiliar Gentile territory. To make matter worse, the storm happens in the evening – a time of darkness. This highlights the fact that sometimes we feel less equipped to face some of our storms.
Being a Christian does not necessarily exempt from storms – financial worries, emotional pain or difficulties, strained and broken relationships and of course sin and weakness. Some people say ‘I don’t deserve it’ but Jesus never promised a free life but rather that He would be with us in the storms.
How do we react?
As you can see from Rembrandt’s painting, the disciples are depicted as having various reactions – fear (the disciple at the back) fight (the disciples fighting the waves), flight (the disciple showing just the back of his head), anxiety (the disciples throwing up) anger (the disciples speaking to Jesus).
In all this Jesus seems to be unconcerned, sleeping on a cushion – let’s face it, this was the first miracle. The person in the position of really steering the ship is asleep which seems as if He doesn’t really care.
The disciples teach us what real prayer is – crying out to God. If you are upset therein words recorded in Matthew’s version of this event are very god to make our own:
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
If you are very upset, the words that Mark wrote down are even more poignant
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Mark 4:38
The Words of Jesus are enough to heal us and calm our fear – whether through Scripture, whether through the words of encouragement from someone else, and whether directly you will Know it is God because the storm inside will calm before the storm outside.
Two Types of Fear
Seeing that the storm had been stilled and Jesus asked them the question ‘Why are you afraid’, you would expect the evangelist to report that the disciples were not overjoyed and full of peace. Instead we read that they were filled with fear. What had changed?
From a negative fear, they experience a healthy fear, which is best translated as awe or reverence. In fact the Word of God tells us to fear God (in this healthy sense) and over and over again not to be afraid (in an unhealthy sense).
The fear of God is first of all a Gift of the Spirit (Isa 11:2,3).
It arises in us when, reaching the end of ourselves, we realise that we are really fully in control of our lives. Then as we experience God’s saving power, His holiness and His mercy, we have the proper respect and awe of sons and daughter toward their loving Father.
This leads away from treating God causally careless or even trying to manipulate Him. We allow God to be God in our lives, humbly allowing Him to revel Himself to us.
Renewing our Trust in Him
Whatever the storm in you life at the moment, big or small, the Lord is calling us to renew our trust in Him as the praying disciple Rembrandt’s painting is doing. Someone once prayed ‘Lord give me such faith, that in the storm I do not need to wake you up.’ After all, if the boat went down, Jesus would have gone down with them.
If we look well at Rembrandt’s painting again you will also notice that he inserted himself in the painting – he is the one wearing the hat looking out at us. It is as if he was reminding us that we are all in the same boat and we need to have trust in Jesus at all times:
‘Be still and know I am God’ (Ps 46:10)
‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you’ (Is. 26:3).