Last edited on 22/Jan/2021
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35–41, ESVUK)
It is very easy to wonder where God is in some situations of life, or to even doubt if he truly cares for us, especially during times of a crisis or when we are afraid or suffering. We might feel this way when a powerful earthquake strikes our hometown and causes major damage, when a nearby volcano erupts and makes life much more difficult, or when a flood breaks out, causing us to evacuate from our homes. But our feeling that God doesn’t care for us neither stems from God’s lack of care nor his lack of presence, but rather our lack of faith.
A Windstorm Arose
Jesus and the 12 apostles had a near-death experience out at sea. In the darkness of night time, a powerful windstorm arose that was so great that the boat they were sailing in was flooding. Had one of them fallen out from the tossing and turning of the boat caused by the waves, they would have perished under the chaotic pressure of the sea. The disciples would have been on the deck, trying to keep the boat under control, panicking frantically. But in direct contrast, Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. He was worn out after a long and hard day of teaching the crowds parables of the kingdom of God, and explaining them privately to his disciples. They had just left the crowds in the same boat Jesus was teaching them in that evening, so he was trying to recover while on the move. Panicking for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus and asked if he cared that they were perishing. They knew that Jesus had the power to help them, but they lacked the faith that as long as he was with them he would ensure their safety, whether awake or asleep. They weren’t yet convinced of his divine powers as the Creator of all things.
Creation Obeys Its Creator
Awakened, Jesus immediately cried out a commandment: “Peace! Be still!” In nothing less than a miracle, the winds ceased bellowing, the waves stopped crashing, and there was a great calm. Here the Lord, who originally formed the winds and the seas from Heaven on high by speaking them into existence, demonstrated his ownership over them. The same Lord who said “Let there be light” and there was light, also said “Peace! Be still!” and there was calmness. The winds and the seas themselves recognised the divine voice of their Creator, and obeyed him. Turning to his disciples, Jesus asked “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” We might wonder why Jesus rebuked them in such a way. Wasn’t their fear justified because they were perishing? Yet, the Lord was right: The Christian life is defined by faith in Jesus. If we believe in Jesus, then no powers, whether in Heaven or on Earth, will be able to separate us from him, not even death itself (Romans 8:37–39). The disciples felt that they had lost control, and this almost made them lose hope. But they had not yet realised that Jesus always has been, and always will be, in control of all situations. They had to accept this reality, and rest assured with the knowledge that Jesus had the situation all under control, even before they set sail that evening.
Trust in Jesus Christ
Jesus’ response implies that we need to put our complete trust in him, no matter how tough times get. We need to trust that he will bring us through all trials and keep us secure in the faith throughout them. This means that even at the darkest hours of our lives, we must continue to make Jesus our refuge. Jesus said “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you,” (John 16:7). We became holy, precious temples of the Holy Spirit when we were baptised, and he will ensure that no matter what trials we face, we will always have the strength to trust in Jesus. We may not understand why we are suffering a particular way, or why our plans have failed, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can always know that Jesus understands exactly what we’re going through, that he has a reason for why he’s allowing these things to happen to us, and that he will guard and strengthen our faith throughout these trials.
Jesus Is in Control
Rather than feeling relief that the storm subsided, the disciples felt amazement. Their teacher was no ordinary rabbi they had ever seen. They questioned among themselves “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Even in this near-death experience, Jesus allowed this to happen to teach the disciples a valuable lesson about who he really is. Jesus is not just their rabbi or a good prophet, but he is their Lord and their God. Everything in creation belongs to him and is in subjection to him. Jesus was teaching his disciples that they were capable of putting their trust completely in him, even if things seemed to be going haywire, because he has full, sovereign control over this universe.
The Spirit-filled authors of the Bible included this great lesson not only for the disciples’ instruction, but for ours, too. When we face trials and tribulations of all kinds, what will we do? Will we give up? Are we those who shrink back and get destroyed? No, rather we are those who have faith and preserve our souls (Hebrews 10:39). Why? Is it because of how good we are? Is it because of anything we have done? No, but because by grace, God has drawn us to his divine Son, Jesus (John 6:37–40, 44), and chosen us before the foundation of the world to be in Christ, and to be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1:3–4). We have been given the grace that is necessary to continue living Godly lives and to endure through difficult circumstances. If doubts ever arise in our hearts, then we need to remind ourselves of what Jesus did with his disciples in the boat, and just accept that we don’t have the control over our lives that we would like, but he does. We need to realise that even if things don’t go our way, he still cares for us, and that he allows all things to happen for a reason. We need to take comfort in the fact that Jesus knows exactly what we’re going through, and that he will help us come out of each and every trial stronger than we once were, and strengthened in our relationship with him, until the day he calls us home, and brings us into his everlasting kingdom. He will always help us through the storms of our lives. Amen.