Monday, November 16, 2015

When Storms Come Raging

After a long day of teaching, Jesus and His disciples get in a boat to set out across the Sea of Galilee. On their journey across, Jesus decides to take a little snooze in the stern of the boat. And all of a sudden, a powerful storm comes up, and the disciples are afraid. They're not afraid because they've never seen a storm before, for if you do any research on the Sea of Galilee, you'll find that its position in this basin, this valley, means it gets storms a lot. Being fishermen, who are used to making their living on these and other waters, this is definitely not the first storm they've faced. But this storm is more powerful than any they've seen before.
According to the fourth chapter of the gospel of Mark, the storm was so furious that the waves broke over the boat and swamped it. So, naturally, the disciples believed they were going to drown. They believed they were going to die. In their panic, they turn to Jesus, who is still sleeping, and they woke him to say, "Teacher, we are going to drown, we are going to die. Don't you care?"

Life is filled with storms that threaten to overtake. Storms that come in the form of illness, doubt, insecurity, and fear. This being life and us being human, we have seen our fair share of these storms just as the disciples had seen their fair share of storms. But again, like the disciples, our experience with surviving through the storms sometimes isn't enough. Because sometimes, life comes in with a doozy.
I'm sure you know the kind I'm talking about. The job lost during a time when money was something you desperately needed. The diagnosis that changes everything. The threat to the one thing you've identified with the most for most of your life. Whatever the storm may be, all the other storms pale in comparison.

It's during these storms that we react exactly as the disciples had, with questions of, "Don't you even care?" It's easy to react this way, even natural sometimes, when our world seems to be crashing down around us. After all, if Jesus is the great protector, shouldn't He keep us from heartaches and loss such as these?
But if there's one thing I've learned from the scripture, it's that some of the best things come from the worst circumstance. Just take a look at any of the stories from the Old or New Testament. Many people faced trials aplenty, having to leave their homes, families, jobs, and comforts behind to follow God to the promise He offered. I could give some examples, but I think Jon Jorgenson of The Anima Series did an amazing job in his spoken word poem called "The Wall."
So allow me to pass the torch to him for a moment:

Jesus never promised there wouldn't be pain, in fact He practically assured us that it would be difficult. "Pick up your cross and follow me," He said, and if I remember correctly, His path of the cross was not an easy one lined with flowers and tea parties in the sun with a herd of passing unicorns. His path was difficult, it was painful, and it lead Him even to death. But from it came the most glorious victory ever seen.
Do you think that victory would ever come to pass, or we would even know a thing about this man, if He had not decided to deny His own comfort to take the sometimes painful road to redemption?

So of course He cares, just as you care when you hear a loved one going through some sort of trial. Because He has been there Himself before. He knows what it's like and is more than willing to help you conquer the storms in your life. I know this because the story of the storm doesn't stop there.

While the men are freaking, sure they are going to die, Jesus calmly gets up and looks out over the wind and waves and He says, "Quiet! Be still!"
If you've ever read the same scripture at different points in your life and gotten something different from it each time because of your life circumstances are different and your perspective has changed, then you understand when I say that sometimes I look at passages and wonder if there's something more there than what I'm just seeing.
Since there's not a lot of context as to what the disciples were thinking and feeling during this moment, it's hard to tell for sure, but I think Jesus was speaking to more than just the wind and waves on that stormy afternoon. I think He was speaking straight to their hearts. I think while He was telling the waves to calm and commanding the wind to be still, He was wishing the same over His followers' troubled spirits.

So next time you find yourself in a tough life situation, remind yourself that while the storm may be scary, we have someone at work on our behalf to either push back the storm itself, or calm the storms of fear and doubt that rage within.

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