“Don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38)
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
After a long day of ministry, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat so they could go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. It was no big deal, especially with seasoned sailors like Andrew and Peter and James and John on board. A quick trip across the lake, a leisurely nighttime sail, and before morning they would be on the other side.
It didn’t exactly work out that way.
The key to understanding this story lies in one important question: Whose idea was it to get in the boat in the first place?
Jesus told them to get in the boat, knowing that the storm was coming. He knew what was about to happen, he didn’t try to stop it, he got into the boat with them, and then he went to sleep. Suddenly a great storm arose, the wind rushing down across the mountains and through the Arbel, whipping up the waves and causing them to come crashing into the boat. As the water entered, the disciples furiously tried to bail it out but the water rushed in faster than they could bail it out. The little fishing boat bobbed like a cork as wave after wave crashed into it. Nothing could be more terrifying than to be on a boat in the blackness of night as it takes on water and slowly begins to sink.
Finally, the disciples woke Jesus up, asking him a question that to us may seem impertinent, but it is one we have all asked in moments of desperation: “Don’t you care if we drown?”
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that my child is sick?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that my marriage is falling apart?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that my friends have deserted me?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that I have no money?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that I feel so alone?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that I want to give up?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that my husband has died?
Lord Jesus, don’t you care that I lost my job?
We have all asked that question in a million ways a million times. We never question the Lord’s compassion when things are going well. But God’s compassion is not measured by our circumstances nor is his kindness limited to our understanding. God cares just as much when the tempest is raging as when the seas are calm and the sun is shining. His mercy is not limited to the sunlight or to the stillness of the waves.
When he awoke, Jesus spoke three words: “Peace, be still!" Eugene Peterson offers this colorful paraphrase:
“Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Settle down!’"
Here is good news for today. The storms of life that buffet us do not happen by chance. Our Father sends them because he intends to teach us things we couldn’t learn any other way. When we read this story, we tend to focus on the miracle, but the real message comes in verse 41: “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
Take heart and do not despair. Christ is Lord over all the storms of life. He sends the storms, and he rides the waves with you. The Master of the sea is by your side. When the time has come, he will say, “Peace, be still!” and the storm will run out of breath, and the sea will become like glass. Eventually the day will break and the sun will shine again.
We thank you, Master of the Wind and Waves, that you control the storms of life. Nothing can touch us without your permission. Increase our faith so that we will trust you when the waves threaten to overwhelm us. Amen.
In what areas of life do you feel overwhelmed right now? What fears gnaw at your heart when you try to sleep at night? Name your worries. Make a list. Then ask the Lord to come and calm the storms that threaten to inundate you. Take today’s prayer and post it where you can see it. Every time you are tempted to give in to your fears, repeat this prayer to the Lord.
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