“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. And He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be Still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:37, 39
In the context of this passage, Jesus is in a small boat on the Sea of Galilee during a great storm, and has been wakened by twelve very alarmed disciples. His disciples knew their peril well with high winds and waves; their boat was sure to be swamped. But Jesus was on board – the very One who hovered over the waters at Creation and “who shuts in the sea with doors and prescribes limits for it.” Jesus brought a great calm.
How is it that some respond to a perilous event with an upward gaze of trust and others see only the waves around them? In the Book of Acts, after the disciples had seen Jesus in His risen glory and received the Holy Spirit, we witness great courage. They preached the gospel fearlessly in the face of all sorts of danger – beatings, imprisonments, angry mobs, and even martyrdom. Our trials seldom match the intensity of these persecutions and sufferings, but whatever our peril, Jesus Himself is our peace. The trials we face are meant only to draw us closer to Him. And we can find that same great calm today that quieted the waves of Galilee 2000 years ago.
I expect that most of us with a little thought can compile a long list of trials that we have passed through. Our lists will differ, but we have at times felt that circumstances would overwhelm us. I recently compiled a long list from 20 years of marriage and raising four children.
One early example came just after the birth of our first child, Joshua. We arrived home from the hospital with much trembling. My mother was caring for my father in Maine, and Pari’s mother was far away in India – we were quite alone. We both came from very large families, but this was of little help as we are both the youngest of nine children. We knew very little and were sometimes alarmed (just imagine croup for someone who has never experienced it), but God helped us every hour of every day, and Joshua flourished.
Then… is trusting enough? Perhaps not. Jesus entered Gethsemane shortly before His crucifixion with no little tension and concern. He clearly trusted in His Father, but nonetheless, He sweat great drops of blood. After He prayed, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” a great peace flooded His soul. To accept God’s will is to remove the root of fear and find the way to peace.
William Barclay expresses it well in his Daily Study Bible Series (Hebrews 7:1-3). “There is no real peace for any man until he has said: ‘Thy will be done.’” This same prayer has often brought calm to my soul as decisions and uncertainties have multiplied through the years.
He who calmed the waves on the Sea of Galilee, prayed in Gethsemane, and causes peace to prevail in heaven itself, speaks to the human heart with the same efficacy.
And He speaks to us today in storms great and small –“Peace! Be Still!”