Updated: Mar 23, 2022
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “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
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27
How many times have we said to God with our words, actions, or thoughts: “God, do you not care that we are perishing?” I would guess that at least once we have questioned God in our suffering. In our limited knowledge and our limited power to change situations we tend to question God because we think that there is no way God would want suffering for us and that we don’t deserve it. Although God, our good Father, would not send suffering just because He wants to see us suffering, God does use those difficult situations to draw us near him and understand that our fortress is him and not our own strength.
In this passage, the first thing we see is Jesus telling the disciples to go to the other side. It was his idea. Now, one of the attributes of God is omniscience. He knows everything, including what will happen, and since Jesus is fully God and fully Human, the storm ahead was not a surprise for him. Jesus asked them to go to the other side knowing the storm was coming, the boats were going to be filled with water and the disciples’ hearts were going to be drowned in fear. The storm comes, the water starts filling the boats, and when the disciples went to find Jesus, he was sleeping. Here is where the disciples question him because they were drowning, and Jesus was enjoying his nap! However, it is important to note that although their question to Jesus sounded more like a complain, they still knew that in their difficult situation, they needed him. They knew that they couldn’t do anything about it, but maybe Jesus could. Then, Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and told the sea to be still… creation listened, and the storm was gone.
We have heard this story enough for us to read it again and just fly through what Jesus did, but there is no one on earth that with just his or her words can make nature do as they say. Jesus, being God, had the authority to command nature to do as he wished. Jesus saved the disciples from the storm, and yes, it was a miracle! But after they were safe, Jesus immediately questions their fear and connects their fear to a lack of faith. Like I said before, the disciples knew they had to look for Jesus, but their hearts looked for him because they were drowning in fear already. The disciples had been spending time with him, and they had seen his power, but they did not fully understand and trust his power. Their question to Jesus showed that the storm was strong enough to question Jesus’s care for them and his power to save them. They did not fully understand that they were with God on that boat, with the creator that has authority over his creation.
From the disciples we can learn that being a Christian does not exempt us from suffering. Being a Christian and having Jesus as our Lord and Savior is not a pass to life without inconveniences and painful situations. The disciples were physically with Jesus and still went through the storm and later through persecution. Similarly, we have the Holy Spirit within us and a God that promises to be with us, but we will face difficulties and suffering. However,
our faith in God is the key to go through the storm.
I wrote this reflection back in February 2021, right before I went through my own storm. Again, not a surprise for God. When I wrote it, I felt like my faith was so strong and I felt moved to motivate others to not fear because our God is in control. But days after my faith trembled and crashed, and I didn’t finish this writing after a whole year had passed. In February, Texas experienced snow as it hadn’t done in a while, and it was my first snow experience too. At the time, I had wholesale electricity for my apartment, and although I had electricity, my bank account was emptied. The day I woke up and saw that, I tried to call, email, chat, to reach my bank or the electricity company but nothing was working. I was trying so hard by my own strength to fix it and I spent a whole day crying and waiting on hold and did not solve a thing! The Lord was teaching me that I was not in control. As Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” I learned the answer to that question that day. Once I knew I was not in control, God provided through friends and church family, and the money came back, and all was well. However, God had more for me to learn. In March, I got Covid. Like the I-cannot-breath-well kind of Covid. I felt strong in the beginning! But it wasn’t until I started having difficulty breathing and feeling lonely at night that I felt weak… again. I spent hours crying out to God and praying for health… and the Lord healed me. He heard my cry and all was well. Later in the year, a close friend of mine was in the hospital fighting for her life. The whole church spent days praying for her. I prayed for her continuously. I had faith the Lord was going to have mercy on her. But this time the answer was “no.” This time the Lord’s plan was different than mine… and my faith broke. Suddenly, I felt like there was no point in praying or asking anything from God, because at the end he was going to do his will. Suddenly I felt like my prayer did not have power or was not heard at all. It was a painful and difficult experience. However, the Lord little by little brought peace and comfort to my heart and taught me that his will is better than my own, even when I don’t know why.
As humans being, sometimes we cannot comprehend why we suffer… and it is okay. We are not God. But we do have the confidence that our Father in heaven is with us and will bring peace, comfort, provision, healing, and joy to those who need it and seek him. We have the confidence that he listens to our prayer and knows our needs better than anyone. We have the confidence that his will is better than ours, and we surrender our own will to see the blessings that God will bring through the good and bad times.
My father once explained to me faith in the middle of trials like going to the gym. The more it burns, the more content you are because you know the results are going to be good! It is the same way with our faith. James puts it this way, “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” God does not promise it won’t hurt, but he does promise that the results will be good, and for that we should be joyful.
So yes! our faith in God is the key to go through the storm. It is the Lord who gives us peace to live through stormy trials. It is the Lord who blesses us and works in our hearts through difficult times to complete his work in our lives. And it is the Lord who sustains us and protects us with his mighty hand in the midsts of the storm. So, don’t let your fear take away the joy God has placed in your life. Don’t let pain and suffering take away your faith in God. Instead, cling to him! Cling to your creator and He will sustain you.
Don’t forget that God is in the boat with you, and He has the power to say to the storm, “be still.”
I want to leave you with the lyrics to a hymn that helped me restore my faith… Be Still, My Soul.
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heav’nly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past;
your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he lived below.
Be still, my soul; when dearest friends depart
and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
then you will better know his love, his heart,
who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay
from his own fullness all he takes away.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hast'ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still my soul; when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.