As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Peace! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
We often face stormy trials and tribulations in life. Some are just the natural result of living on this sin-cursed earth. We may experience problems of natural disasters, such as we have seen recently in Haiti and Chile. We may stuggle with an illness of body, mind or spirit. All of us will have to deal with the sorrow caused by the deaths of loved ones. We may suffer financial difficulties. Some of our troubles may be the result of someone else's sin or disfunction. The innocent, sadly, are not spared suffering in the present world. Some troubles we may face can even be as a result of our faith. This is true in many places around the world. "Yes, and all who desire to live a right life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3.12).
At the same time, some of our storms may be the result of our own choices, mistakes and sins. In 2 Samuel 12:9-14, David was told that he would suffer greatly as a result of adultery with Bathsheba and subsequently having her husband killed. David repented and was forgiven, but he faced many storms as a consequence of his behavior.
God promises that in all these things we will not be alone, nor forsaken.
Sometime before 1874, Mary Ann Baker had lost both her parents to a terrible disease. Then her beloved brother became ill with the same disease and left their Chicago home for a warmer, and hopefully healthier, climate. He grew worse, and Mary Ann also became ill so she was unable to visit or help him. When she received word that he had died, she turned away from God in anger. However, after a while her heart softened and her childhood faith returned. She wrote the following words, based on this story of Jesus but reflecting her own experience:
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?"
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace be still."
I heard this song recently and it took me back to my childhood church. Life was tumultuous and uncertain for me in those days. But how faithful God has been!
Would you like to hear the melody? Here is the best version I could find.
Prince of Peace, we admit that sometimes our hearts cry out, "Don't you care?" Forgive us we pray, even as we ask you to calm the waters. If it is right, may the storm cease as it did for your disciples. Or, if it is better for us, calm the storm in our hearts and help us to trust even as we turn our faces to the wind. Amen