How to calm the storms in your life
"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, just as he was, in the boat. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat 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 if we perish?’ 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 afraid? Have you no faith?’ And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?’” Mark 4:35-41
Before we ponder what Jesus is teaching us in this incident with his disciples, let us have a brief geography lesson. The Sea of Galilee is surrounded by hills having very steep valleys, which create a funnel effect when the wind rises. Because of this, even today, severe storms can escalate very quickly in this region. (I had an opportunity to cross that lake one day by boat and I can testify to the beauty of that body of water, and to the very rapid changes in weather.)
Beginning with verse 35, we see that toward evening, after a long day of teaching the crowds from the boat, Jesus indicates that he wants to go to the other side of the lake. Some others follow him in their boats. While they are on the lake, a storm arises – a particularly fierce one. And I want you to notice that these experienced, professional fishermen are terrified!
Have you ever come to a time in your life when the “storm” was so great, so heavy, that no matter what wealth of experience you had in life, you see that you are about to be overwhelmed – you are about to drown. Suddenly all your confidence seems to evaporate and you are terrified. And to top it all off, Jesus is asleep in the boat! In the storms of your life, has it ever seemed to you that Jesus must be asleep? Why doesn’t he do something? And if there is no immediate answer, we are tempted to terrible anxiety or anger or despair.
Look at what the disciples do. They go to Jesus and call his name until he wakes up – then they berate him in their terror: Don’t you care if we die?
Have you ever been pushed to that desperate point? Archbishop Timothy Dolan told this story of a high-school friend of his who went to Vietnam and came back a drug addict. Archbishop Dolan heard from people how his friend’s life went from bad to worse over the next number of years. And then, one day, his friend called him on the phone: “Could I stop over and see you? “ Archbishop Dolan was very surprised, but, of course, said yes – trying to prepare himself to see his good friend practically destroyed by drugs and alcohol. But, to his greater surprise, the man who walked in looked healthy, well-dressed and in the company of a lovely woman. What happened?
Then his friend told this story: “I was in such bad condition that I wanted to die. So another guy and I found an abandoned warehouse, used our last money to buy the best drugs and decided that we would ‘go out’ in style, so to speak. “I had no hope, no reason for living. But just before we injected the drugs, this guy said to me, ‘Can you think of one good reason why we shouldn’t do this?’’ And Archbishop Dolan’s friend said, “When he asked that question, words I’d learned in first grade just popped into my head: ‘God made us to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in the next.’” The guy listening to these words, said, “Well, that’s as good a reason as any not to do it.” They didn’t, and Archbishop Dolan’s friend said his life changed from that moment.
What’s the storm in your life where you think there is no hope? Turn to Jesus – literally turn to Jesus – and, as the disciples did, cry out to God for help. Don’t stop until he “wakes up” and hears your plea.