The story of Jesus calming the storm is found in three of the four Gospels (Mark 4:25-41, Luke 8:22-25, Matthew 8:23-27) and was vividly brought to life for us by 4FrontTheatre in their show ‘Fisherman’s Tail.’
It’s a story with which most Christians are very familiar and shows us not only Jesus’s complete mastery over the elements but the disciples’ fear. We can relate to their panic, and I particularly like the detail in Mark’s Gospel (possibly supplied by Peter) where the disciples wake Jesus and say, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ (Mark 4:38) That, it seems to me, is a very human response to ‘storms’. We often feel as though God is absent from our suffering: indifferent, aloof, distant.
Of course, Easter demonstrates to us that this thinking is deeply flawed. God is not absent in our suffering (or even ‘asleep on the job,’ as Jesus seemed to be.) Jesus took on human flesh to show us once and for all that God is not indifferent, aloof or distant. He is Immanuel, God with us.
But I’m also intrigued by Jesus’s response to the disciples after the storm. ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ (Mark 4:40) I believe we need to ask these questions to our own souls at this present stormy time. In Luke’s Gospel, the question is phrased differently: ‘Where is your faith?’ (Luke 8:28)
Fear and faith are two things which ought not to live side by side in harmony. Often, they co-exist in us (and we needn’t beat ourselves up over our inconsistencies, but instead simply bring these to God.) These are pertinent questions, however, which must be faced and answered by us if we are to grow in faith and let go of fear.
Why are we so afraid? What do we really fear? Do we fear illness and death? Do we fear uncertainty and unfamiliarity? Do we fear financial problems? We need to name our fears and then bring them to Jesus, because whatever our fears, and whatever lies behind them, He is more than able to cast them out with His perfect love.
Where is our faith? Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) Faith looks beyond our present circumstances to the assurance God gives us that He is the victor and it will all work out for good. As we read God’s word, hear His word and speak His word, faith is built up in our hearts and fear has to go.