I hesitate to release these words into the wild; to add to the cacophony of fear and panic and mania that is this season we are all living. As a writer, I’ve struggled to put ink to paper to pen my thoughts on the crisis that is gripping our world. How do you bring voice to the hurt, the brokenness, the fear and anxiety that we collectively feel? The reality is there are not enough of my words to soothe this ocean of panic, to bring sweet peace to this storm.
But there is Jesus and His good word.
Time after time in this season of loss and hurt and heartbreak, I have found myself turning to the story of Jesus calming the storm in 3 of the 4 gospel accounts. The story in Mark takes place after Jesus finishes teaching some parables, specifically the parable of the mustard seed (an important detail that is not lost on me.)
In the evening, Jesus calls his disciples to the boat on the Sea of Galilee and says, “let’s go the other side.” (vs. 35) The group gets into the boat and overnight a windstorm breaks out, causing the boat to begin taking on water. The disciples – in their fear and anxiety – they panic. They rush to Jesus, who is asleep on a cushion and cry out to him, “teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!” (vs. 38)
Stop. Right there. Don’t we feel that, right now? That panic and unrest? Teacher, Jesus, Son of God, Word in Flesh, Redeemer, do you not care that we are perishing?! As the plague of the Coronavirus sets fire to many of the things and people that we love and hold most dear, we are the disciples in the boat, questioning the goodness of the Christ in the midst of this storm threatening to overtake us. Maybe none of the ones you love are sick, but have we not felt the social and financial ramifications of this disaster? As we reel from this pandemic, we can’t help but question where is Jesus, why is he sleeping on us, does he not care that we are perishing?
The turn is there, it’s always there if you stay for the rest of the story.
The disciples awaken Jesus, and he calls into question their lack of faith which he had just preached to them (see mustard seed). He speaks to the wind and the waves, “peace! Be still!” (vs. 39) With just a word he calms the sea, the storms no longer rage, and the world is still. Jesus turns to his disciples, and here’s the real rub:
“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (vs. 40)
The world is holding its collective breath right now – afraid of what’s to come, of this virus and it’s effects on our society, of how we will all survive this pandemic. Jesus is saying to us (in love and gentleness), “have you still no faith? Do you still not trust me? Have I not shown myself to be good, time after time? Do you think I will abandon you now, even after all I’ve already done?”
We are in the midst of great fear, but we have an even greater hope. The Christ – the calmer of waves, the miracle worker, our rock and our salvation, he is calling us into peace. Let us be still and rest in His presence.