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?” Mark 4:36-40 ESV
When I was in the Navy, I experienced some mighty storms out on the oceans – Typhoons in the Western Pacific, Nor’easters off the Atlantic coast, and mighty dust storms that blew across the Persian Gulf from the Arabian Desert. Once I witnessed an entire section of the ship’s bulkhead battered and swept away by a rogue wave. Yet, I can only imagine the experience of being in a relatively small boat in a great windstorm, with waves breaking over the side, and water pouring in faster than it could be bailed out!
I can imagine what it must have felt like to the disciples that night on the Sea of Galilee, when they feared they were perishing. Yet, the disciples had just that day listened while Jesus explained the Parables of the Kingdom. They had seen Him perform miracles of healing. And still, they were afraid.
Lest we be too quick to judge their lack of faith, we would do well to examine ourselves. Have we been tempted to be fearful in our own experience of life? The mass media these days works endlessly, night and day, to provide the public with plenty of opportunity to indulge in fear – COVID, the economy, war, civil unrest – take your pick!
As Christians, however, we serve the same Lord who rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea itself, “Peace! Be Still!” Jesus, who caused the wind to cease, and brought a great calm that night, is the same Jesus who delights to ride with us “in the boat” in this day and age, through all the storms of life that come our way.
Was the question of the disciples that night– “Do you not care that we are perishing?”– meant to be rhetorical? One wonders what kind of answer they actually might have expected. It certainly didn’t project a faithful attitude.
Let’s not ask that question when we’re in the storm. Of course, Jesus cares! And we are also most assuredly not perishing. We are to have no fear of death, because He is with us. Paul put it very simply in his letter to the Philippians when he wrote, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
The Sabbath is a time that God set aside for our rest from the storms of life. Just as Christ spoke to the wind and sea and commanded them, God spoke at the time of creation and “blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” That blessing has never been revoked.
He has provided us a place of rest from the storm. If you are feeling unsettled tonight, one idea is to go to Jesus in prayer, but instead of asking, “Do you not care?” say, “Jesus, I know you care! Please, Lord, speak into the wind and sea that is trying to swamp my boat tonight, and by your might, please bring peace. I know you can do it, and I’m thankful that you have provided this day of rest.”
I’m praying right now for anyone who is feeling the need of such peace, and I’m with you in faith. May you ride on a calm and peaceful sea this Sabbath.