“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.” – Mark 4:37-38a
This has been something I have experienced spiritually and emotionally recently, that I’m in a boat and windstorms of life have arisen, waves have been breaking into my boat so that it has been filling and it feels like I’m in danger of drowning. When I call out to God, it seems at times like He is sleeping in the storm much like Jesus was in this story, and I feel like the disciples did in the boat with Jesus. I start to freak out and ask Him, “Do you not care that we are perishing? Um, hello, Jesus, do you see me over here? I’m about to drown, don’t you see this? Are you gonna do anything?” Ever experience something like this? I have before, and I have recently. It isn’t easy or fun when you are in the midst of it and freaking out.
What is it that I’m forgetting, just like the disciples did in this story, in the midst of the storm? I think I could say a lot of things here, but lets look back a few verses to what was going on in this story. Just before this storm rose up and the disciples started to freak out, Jesus had finished telling some parables and told the disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” Did you get that? Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, let’s get in this boat and go sink out in the middle, for this is how we die today.” No, he says, let us go across to the other side. As in, everyone on the boat. Seems like Jesus had a plan and it included getting to the other side of this body of water without drowning. And these were experienced fishermen – they have been in boats, most likely have even gone across this body of water before, and it is a high chance they have been in storms on the water before as well but they still freak out in this storm (must have been big). In spite of their expertise, or maybe because of their expertise, they freak out about this storm and turn to Jesus when they don’t know what else to do. Just like me at times, they have easily forgotten what Jesus has said and they were confused that their circumstances weren’t what they expected of their journey.
What is Jesus’ response after they wake him? First He calms the storm with His words – which is incredibly loving of Him. Then verse 40 says: “He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?'” Jesus had told them they were going to go across to the other side, but how quickly they lost sight of what Jesus said and were overcome by their fear in the storm. I do this. I have experienced this recently, and there are many aspects to this current storm for me. But I am reminded that I am not experiencing joy in this time because I am so easily distracted by the storm around me. Someone recently said to me that joy is: looking to Jesus first, then to others, and then lastly to yourself (Jesus, others, yourself = Joy). It is kinda silly doing acronyms, I know, but really it made some sense when you look at the great commandments – to love God (seek His Kingdom) and to love others. Instead of looking to Jesus first, I’ve often in the storm been looking to myself, my own needs, and my own desires. Like the disciples on the boat I start freaking out and saying “God, don’t you see me? Don’t you care that I am perishing?” I easily forget promises He has made. I forget who He is. Please pray for me to turn from myself – repent – and look to Jesus. The disciples had to learn this lesson, so at least I’m in good company.
When I discussed this with someone the other day, what came to my mind is the Casting Crowns song – “Praise You In This Storm”, so I have included it from Youtube below. I think it is fitting and pray that although my heart is torn, that I will praise Him in this storm. I am reminded also that just because we can and want to experience joy in these storms does not mean that we act like our hearts aren’t broken and just put on a happy face. We can bring our brokenness to Jesus and that is how we experience this Joy. By coming to Him, no matter what. Lord, help me in this even now!