The account of Jesus calming the wind and the waves on the Sea of Galilee is a great story for our time. Three of the gospel accounts paint a picture of terrified disciples believing their next breath might be their last.
The disciples’ worry for their own safety and the fact that Jesus was conveniently resting in back of the boat seemed to justify their conclusion that Jesus did not really care about their predicament. Yet He fully cared and understood.
The “storm” experience was a test for the disciples like the one when Jesus fed the 5,000. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to read over the words in John 6:6: “He said [this] to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.”
Jesus wasn’t playing a game with His disciples so they would fail. He never treats those created in His image in such a way. Yet who can fault the disciples for being afraid? I would have been. He was simply preparing the disciples for the greater storms ahead.
No one needs to inform us that we are living in challenging days. Throughout our world we are facing many storms—literally and figuratively. Most of us have had to face the fact that as followers of Jesus Christ we are not exempt from storms. Thankfully, Jesus’ words are great comfort to us.
“. . . in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have over-come the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
As the squall enveloped them, the disciples frantically awakened Jesus. He promptly rises to rebuke the elements. His awe-inspiring, raw power calmed the raging tempest. The disciples’ storm experience seemed to be over. Or was it?
Immediately they felt the stormy impact of His words, “you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Jesus’ directness was not lost on the disciples.
Keeping our spiritual “wits” about us is extremely difficult when we are in the midst of severe trials. It is difficult to admit but storms will, more often than not, reveal what’s truly inside us. Pride, doubt, fear, blame, lack of faith and so forth come to light in the midst of our trials. If given the opportunity, “storms” can defeat us.
This great story helps us remember some profoundly simple truths.
First, being “close” to Jesus will not keep us from the squalls of life. Riding in the boat with the Master will actually guarantee us a few hurricane encounters. But there’s no better place to be. And by the way, if He is resting, so should we. It may be difficult with the conditions around us but let’s cozy up to Him.
Second, we need to remember the promises made to us. Jesus tipped off the disciples at the beginning of their journey when He said: “Let us cross over to the other side.” What Jesus says, I can trust. Arrival at the destination was a guarantee to disciples then as well as now. He delivers what He promises.
And third, remember why we’re in the stormy boat with Jesus. The disciples were worried about surviving the storm, but when then arrived on “the other side,” the tempest-calming power of the Savior would be on display again. That is when the disciples were faced with a community-terrorizing, demon-possessed man.
While not denying the severity of difficulties many are going through, those who are in Jesus’ boat have the only one who can calm their storms while those, like the Gaderene demoniac, are in storms far worse than ours.
It’s a great lesson to learn and at times a difficult one. Jesus uses the stormy trials to refine our lives. There is always someone on the other side. He brings us through our storms so we might bring others out of theirs.
“Praise be to the God . . . who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).
God’s best to you as you navigate the storms!
John Tolle is supervisor of the Pacific Coast and Valleys District of Foursquare Churches