Thursday July 9, 2020
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
— Nelson Mandela
There is a lot going on in our country at this moment. Protests surrounding race and equity issues continue, communities are engaged in necessary but difficult conversations, and discussions about going back to school and the office are racing through our communities. We are heading somewhere, but in so many ways, we just don’t know how to get there or what the journey will look like.
I imagine Jesus’ disciples felt similarly in the above text upon which we are reflecting. Jesus had been teaching by the coast of the Sea of Galilee. After teaching, Jesus tells his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” They left the crowd, where Jesus had just been teaching, embark, and set sail to go to the other side of the Sea. Now, it must have been a pretty good trip, because Jesus has enough time to go to sleep. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, disaster strikes. A violent thunderstorm takes place, and its fierce enough to make experienced fishermen fear for their life. Now, mind you, Jesus isn’t inside the boat in a comfortable bed. He isn’t cruising. He’s on the stern–the rearmost outside part of the boat. He is being rocked and rained on just as they are, but he is perfectly at rest. They rouse Jesus out of his sleep, terrified and shaken by the events in front of them, and they believe, wholeheartedly, that they are about to die. Jesus gets up and makes two rebukes–one to the Sea and one to the disciples. He quiets the storm that is tossing the ship to and fro, and he quiets the storm of fear in the disciples’ hearts.
Can you see that both are natural occurrences? The Sea of Galilee was prone to violent storms because the valleys surrounding it acted as wind tunnels, and the storm in their hearts was a natural response to this fearful situation. Yet, both are out of place. When Jesus says to them, “Let’s go to the other side,” he means it. We are going there, and the storm has no place in thwarting divine prerogative. Moreover, he told them they were going to the other side, and he challenges their faith. Jesus reminds them, and us as well, fear has no place, ultimately, in the life of faith. Fear, like storms, will pop up in our lives, seemingly out of nowhere. We will experience fear, but just as the quote from Nelson Mandela stated above, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Fear, for the believer, is conquered by faith; we overcome fear by trusting in Christ. You can choose to focus on the storm, and the storm can rage in your heart. But I would rather focus on the one who can calm the storm and chase it away.
- How has the storm of fear visited your life?
- Is your faith transforming the fear or is the fear informing your faith?
- Where can you trust God more in your life?
Prayer for Today
O Lord, we are far too often prone to fear. Circumstances emerge that are beyond our control, and we feel the loss of control and fear the loss of control. We forget that control, in many respects, is an illusion. We have no capacity to calm or call storms. You, however, can calm the storm and chase it away. Help us, God, to trust you and lean not to our own understanding. Help us to surrender control of our lives and to live our lives in partnership with you. Help us to trust you and to trust that you will be with us and never leave us. Calm the storms in our lives, and even if the storm continues to rage, help us to find peace in the midst of storms.
The First 15
Sign up to receive an email notification whenever a new devotional is posted to The First 15.