On that day, when evening had come, he (Jesus) said to them (His disciples), “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 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?” 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. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 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 (ESV)
All of us face anxiety over circumstances in our lives. Everyone has been through some form of calamity, uncertainty or distress, whether it is something as trivial as running out of coffee, or as catastrophic as a natural disaster or an untimely death of a loved one.
Even though Jesus had chosen these men as His disciples, and they had Jesus right there with them, they were still terrified. They still cried out to Him- “Do something!”
Does it seem to us as if Jesus is sleeping at times- that He is not aware of our need, or that He doesn’t care about our suffering?
The disciples struggled with fear and a lack of faith just like we do- even though they could see, walk with and touch Jesus. The evidence was right there with them, visible, audible, tangible, and they still struggled with faith. No wonder our faith is often weak.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true. – Martin Luther, from the Small Catechism, Explanation of the Third Article of the Creed
Faith is a gift from God. Jesus is right here with us just as He was with His disciples in the boat during that storm on the Sea of Galilee. The difficult part for us is that we can’t see Him or reach out and touch Him. Faith is not rational. Some people will claim that, “If I could see Jesus then I would believe in Him.” Others are looking for Jesus to send us supernatural signs. Yet Jesus warned us that false prophets will display signs and wonders in an attempt to deceive His people (Matthew 24:24). Faith does not always see the object in which it believes. We can trust that in our baptism, by the water and the Word we are named and claimed as Jesus’ own, and we are given the gift of faith. As we hear the Word taught, we learn about Jesus and grow in our faith.
The wind and the sea are subject to Jesus and His sovereignty just as all of nature is subject to Him. We have no control over the winds and the waves. We have no control over the chemical and electrical processes in our bodies, let alone any process or machinery outside of us.
“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” This man is God of very God, the Word who was with God, through whom all things were made, and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-5)
Jesus does know our suffering, intimately. Jesus does not just stand aside as a passive observer. Nothing came into being without Him. Nothing exists without Him. We can trust that He is in control of the storms and the tragedies as well as our triumphs and accomplishments. We may not know what comes next but He does, and He is with us.