Reynolds Price was a professor at Duke University. He was also a cancer survivor who used his experience to serve others battling cancer. He tells of receiving a letter from a young medical student who had developed a life-threatening cancer:
“I want to believe in a God who cares because I may meet him sooner than I had expected. I think I am at the point where I can accept the existence of God but I can’t yet believe God cares about me.”
At some point in life, that’s something we all struggle to believe. Does God care about me?
- Lord, don’t you care that my child is sick?
- Don’t you care that my marriage is falling apart?
- Don’t you care that I have no money?
- Don’t you care that I feel so alone?
- Don’t you care that I want to give up?
- Don’t you care that my husband has died?
- Don’t you care that I lost my job?
In fact, there are times it might be easier to believe in God than to believe he cares about you.
Because of that, we live with anxiety and worry. We live in fear of what might happen next. Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be that way.
The entire Christmas story is about a God who is with us – a God who came near to us in the form of Jesus. Jesus did not come to simply observe how you live. He came to change the way you live and how you face life.
Because we live in a world filled with storms, one of the ways he wants to change your life is by offering you true peace.
Today’s passage is from the Gospel of Mark. It’s one of four biographies written about Jesus that are included in our Bible. This particular passage starts a section that records various miracles performed by Jesus.
Here’s how the story goes …
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, donʼt you care if we drown?” — Mark 4:35-38
The disciples asked same question we have often asked: Don’t you care?
These kind of passages are great to read scripture with your imagination. They are trying to cross over the Sea of Galilee when a furious squall kicks up. This is not a little wind and some water splashing in the boat. This is a furious squall (I just like saying the word squall!). In Luke’s account of the same story, he says “they were in great danger.”
So, let’s not be too hard on the disciples. Unlike me, several of them were professional fishermen. They knew this lake very well. Political pundits aside, it’s usually the experts who recognize need to panic.
It’s the accountant who can read a profit and loss statement and identify potential problems. It’s the doctor who can interpret lab results.
That’s why I don’t believe this is a matter of the disciples over-reacting.
There are imaginary storms that we create in our minds – and then there are REAL storms with real consequences. What does Jesus do?
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” — Mark 4:39-40
We’re not told how long it took to wake up Jesus but we are told what he did – he rebuked the wind and waves.
• It literally means that he muffled the winds and the waves.
It’s important to remember that although the disciples were expert sailors, they still couldn’t handle this storm by themselves.
They finally went to Jesus for help – almost as a last resort. We often do the same thing. We will try everything but God. We will build spreadsheets with pros and cons, attend seminars, even watch Dr. Phil hoping to find an answer.
I don’t believe Jesus expected the disciples to calm the storm by themselves. I do believe he expected them to trust him for ultimate safety.
The greatest danger out on that lake was not the wind or the waves: it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples. The greatest threat to your sense of peace is not what happens around you but within you.
They had forgotten these words of Jesus: “Let us go over to the other side.” He had told them they were going to the other side of the lake together and a storm wasn’t going to stop them.
In all the time they had been with Jesus, never once had he said “Fellas, I need to apologize. I got that one wrong.” He had never given them any reason to not trust him. He has never given me any reason to not trust him. What is the thing we need to remember? The presence of a storm does not indicate the absence of God.
How does the story end?
It seems like Jesus had a harder time calming the disciples than he did calming the storm: 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” — Mark 4:41
If they were scared before, now they are terrified! It leads them to ask, “Who is this man?”
Who is this man? He is Jesus, the Son of God. He is the one who won’t let you stay on one side of the lake for too long. He will ask you to move, even if it means a storm. Why? He knows your faith will only grow stronger by being tested.
You might be in a situation where you are facing a financial, physical, or emotional disaster and nothing seems to be working. If you’re there because of your own rebellion against God, then you need to change what you’re doing – that’s called repentance. Stop rebelling against God and start submitting to him.
But it’s also possible that you are in a storm and it’s not because of your disobedience but your obedience. The disciples ended up in storm because they got in the boat with Jesus.
The same will be true for you when you begin following him. You may be misunderstood, ostracized, or thought to be weird.
That’s when you need to remember that Jesus is responsible for you. If he has asked you to move to the other side of the lake, he will help you get there.
The point of this story is that God is not watching you go through a storm; he is in storm with you. He is more than just an observer. He cares for you more than you could possibly imagine. His power is available to you.