Wednesday, June 17th, Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  Mark 4:35-41


“Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”


Let’s be fair.  These aren’t really questions in the normal sense.  In that setting, the calm after the storm having just settled in, Jesus wasn’t really looking for a philosophical conversation about the nature of human emotions or the theological conclusions reached thus far by his boat mates.


They were afraid because they thought they were going to capsize in the night, drown, and float to shore like dead fish in the morning.  In their fear, in the face of the winds and the lashing rain, faith was the last thing on their minds.  They weren’t really thinking at all, just reacting to the storm.


Fear can do that to you.  When you are afraid, you don’t think clearly.  As a child, a squeak in the night fills your bedroom with monsters.  That isn’t about logic, it is a reaction.  As an adult, one night’s worth of the evening news is all it takes to shake the foundations of your world and replace security with insecurity. Who can count all that has the power to make us afraid?


As for faith…it isn’t like we have a “faith meter” somewhere inside us where we can check our “faith level” like we can check our blood pressure or temperature.  I’ve had people tell me that their faith never wavers, they never question it, it is always a powerful force within them.  But for most people, especially in the darkness of a worrisome night, faith is the last thing on their minds.


I understand faith to be a gift given by God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It isn’t something I generate within myself.  But I do cooperate with God in that the basic faith practices of prayer, reading scripture, worship, fellowship, and service all reinforce, deepen and broaden my faith.  There is a “feeling” component of faith but there is also a knowledge base about faith and a commitment to trust/act on my faith.


And there are times, in the heat of the moment, when it is like faith kicks into high gear and I feel sustained by a power greater than myself.  In many ways, it is the calm times of life when faith suddenly gets relegated to “optional.”  Faith truly is a journey.  A shared journey.


For this isn’t a story about a group of men figuring out how to handle their fears in the midst of a storm.  It is instead a demonstration of the power of God to bring calm to a storm, despite our fears and the faithlessness.  Whether asleep or shouting the waves to peacefulness, Jesus never leaves the boat.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, come to us in our fears and our anxieties.  The sea is so large and our boat is so small, but never too small for you.  May we ever trust you, your care and your keeping, though the oceans of our lives be fierce or calm.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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