“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled and said, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
The story of Jesus calming the storm is probably familiar to you. The disciples decide to follow Jesus across the sea. On their way, Jesus rests while a great storm arises around them. The disciples begin panicking. Eventually, they go to awake Jesus. He rises, chides them for their “little faith,” then rebukes the storm. The disciples may seem to you as the foolish ones in the story, because they didn’t have enough faith to believe Jesus could calm the storm.
But the details reveal a far more nuanced truth. At this point the disciples had already taken steps of faith to become followers of Jesus. In the immediate context of the passage, it is implied that they not only left their nets, but left family responsibilities such as burying their father or mother in order to get in the boat with Jesus (v. 21-22). Further, this particular boat was headed first to Jewish territory, but then to “to the other side”– unfamiliar and challenging Gentile territory (M. 9). In other words, they had already shown great faith by following Jesus into the boat at all.
This leads to the first question–are you in the boat? Are you where God called you to be? Have you followed the nudging of the Holy Spirit in small steps (reading the Bible, praying daily, cutting off sin) and in big steps (taking a step of faith in serving your church, a career decision, a relationship)? God wants to work through us. But He can’t work through us unless we get in the boat with him daily, willing to forsake our flesh and all other pressures in order to follow His leading! Perhaps you got in the boat, but you put an anchor down, unwilling or scared to move forward. Get in the boat and stay in it–keep moving forward with God!
After the disciples got in the boat, a storm arose while Jesus was sleeping. Mark describes it like this: “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling,” (v. 37). If you think the disciples were faint of heart, think again. This was not a light rain–the boat was capsizing! What storm surrounds your boat, your walk with Jesus, right now? Perhaps the winds of anxiety whip around you while a flood of commitments, pressures, and deadlines threatens to capsize you. Perhaps you took a step of faith to walk with Jesus in a new business venture, but financially it just doesn’t seem like ends are going to meet. Whatever they are, the storms in a Christian life are not for the faint of heart. There are tests, trials, and tribulations that feel very real.
Eventually, the disciples feel the situation is so dire that they wake Jesus up, who immediately responds, “Why are you afraid, o you of little faith?”
But WHY did the disciples have little faith? Hadn’t they gotten in the boat? Hadn’t they believed that Jesus was able to calm the storm? Think about it–why would they have woken him and asked him to save them if they hadn’t believed he was capable?
The version of their question in Mark reveals where their faith was truly lacking. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” They cry (v.38). They believed Jesus was capable of saving them. But they didn’t believe that He cared enough to do it.
Let that sink in for a moment. So often we believe intellectually that God can save us from our situation. “Of course He can–God can do anything He wants,” we reason. We even sing about his strength and might in worship songs every Sunday. But come Monday morning, a voice in our hearts betrays us. “This financial burden, this sickness, this test, this decision is overwhelming me, and there’s no end in sight…
“Jesus, do you not care that I am perishing?”
So often we are like the disciples– when push comes to shove, it is so difficult for us to believe that He cares enough to intervene today, when and where we need Him most. We believe in His love generally, but not specifically. Do you have faith that Jesus not only can save you from the storm you’re facing right now, but that he will?
We must have faith in the strength of God’s love for us. Your savior is in the boat with you. The good shepherd who laid down His life for his sheep. The prodigal God who ran out with joy to meet us when we had fully turned away. The one who promises, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until you hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you,” (Isaiah 46:4). The one who created you and counts every hair on your head (Luke 12:7). Your name is engraved on His palms, the same hands that bled for you (Isaiah 49:16). If you can have faith in one thing, it is that His love for you is everlasting, and that His love is a jealous, consuming, active, saving love. The lover of your soul is in the storm with you–He won’t let you drown! (Song of Solomon 3:4).
Application: 15 minutes
Take 5 minutes to journal or meditate on these questions:
-Are you in the boat? Are you doing the last thing God told you to?
-What storm surrounds your boat, your walk with Jesus, right now?
-Are you panicking about the storm while your savior is next to you in the boat?
-Do you have faith that Jesus not only can save you from the storm, but that he will?
Turn on your favorite worship music and take 5 minutes to pray and meditate on God’s love for you. I encourage you to confess based on the application questions, freely talking with God about any barriers you feel to believing in His saving love for you fully.
After you’ve identified the “storm” and your response to it in your journey with Christ right now, I encourage you to pray declarations of truth over your situation. (For example: “The scripture says that I should pray at all times about every issue. I lay down and surrender my anxiety about this test to you right now, in Jesus’ name. I cast this care on to you and believe that you will provide the direction I need to study and the outcome is in your hands. I shut the doors of my heart to fear or anxiety and reject them because they are not the truth. I thank you for how much you love me and that you always listen. Thank you Father God!”)