Matt. 8:19-27 contains a lesson that can teach us not just how to handle a storm but much more:
19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.
20 Jesus replied, Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.
21 Another disciple said to him, Lord, first let me go and bury my father.
22 But Jesus told him, Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, Lord, save us! We re going to drown!
26 He replied, You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!
These verses tell of Jesus sailing aboard a ship to the other side of the sea. His disciples followed not knowing what lay ahead. A terrifying storm arose causing the ship to take on water but Jesus was fast asleep on a pillow below deck. The disciples went into a panic and were filled with fear. No doubt they bailed water overboard with all their strength until they saw the water was coming in faster than they could bail it out. Suddenly remembering Jesus was on board, they ran to Him for help.
I can hear them screaming above the sound of the storm, Jesus, don t you care that we are perishing? Save us! I imagine Him waking, sitting up and looking at them calmly yet intensely with this rebuke, You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Confidently rising to His feet He went above rebuked the wind and said to the sea Peace be still! The disciples astounded at His power did not yet realize who this man really was but they would learn over the next 3 years. He was not just a teacher. He was God, the creator of the universe. The wind and the sea could not resist, they had to obey Him and that ship could never have sank with the God, the Son on board.
Jesus is still calling men today to make the decision to follow Him as disciples.
This requires a total commitment, faith and trust to follow Him wherever He leads not knowing exactly where we are heading or what lies ahead. It may require leaving the familiar to following Him into distant lands. As we follow Him storms from differing forces will arise. They can take the form of a fatal act of nature, raging fleshly desires or a calculated attack by the devil trying to steal, kill and destroy.
In this biblical account, the devil may have caused the tempest that day. He saw Jesus heading over to Gergesenes where 2 demon possessed men had established a stronghold in tombs and would come out, preventing anyone from passing by that way. He may have been trying to prevent Jesus from arriving there because he knew what was going to happen if Jesus confronted the demons. They would be defeated and cast out.
Storms, whatever their source can come suddenly and with such intensity that we are caught off guard just like the disciples were. We struggle and strive doing everything we can to survive and not drown in the trouble. We are so busy fighting the raging storm we sometimes forget that Jesus is on board with us, resting peacefully within, undisturbed by the turmoil. Battling the circumstances has pre-occupied us and we are focused on the wind and waves. Finally, realizing our efforts are failing and sensing defeat, almost as a last resort, we remember Jesus and run to Him, crying out to in fear and panic, Lord don t you even care? Can t you see I am about to perish? Save me!
This is not an effectual prayer of faith but one of desperation. With Jesus on board, how can the ship sink? In our testing, we've forgotten the reassurances of scripture:
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
In this world you will have tribulations but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.
I will never, ever leave you or forsake you.
So why do we panic and suffer such amnesia? Probably for the same reason as Peter in Matthew 14:
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. It s a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don t be afraid.
28 Lord, if it s you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water.
29 Come, he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me!
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?
Peter walked on water by keeping his focus on Jesus but when he took his eyes off Him and began to look at the storm, fear replaced faith and he began to sink, crying out Lord save me!
Concentrating on the storms in or lives, the size of the waves and fierceness of the wind blowing, will always cause fear to rise up in us and replace faith. Sensing our mortality, our minds and bodies shift into survival mode and we do whatever seems logical to save ourselves. Forgetting that Jesus is on board , we panic just like the disciples and just like Peter.
We know that life is not going to be all sunshine and daisies. Storms, trouble and difficulties in life will come. If we are not in a trial or tribulation right now, one is in our future. There will be times of outright persecution, also if we make a stand for Jesus. The devil will try to terrorize us with these raging storms but we have a choice. We can either give in to panic and focus on the storm or we can make a different choice, the choice of faith.
If Jesus can rest in a storm, so can we. We just need to choose to resist panic, calm our souls fearful ragings and listen for His truth in our spirits. As we recall His promises and focus on the might of His power we find that place of rest where He is and we can by faith abide there in Him. When we abide in Him, we are as He was that day of the storm. His Spirit was alive but His soul was at peace and His body was calmly resting on a pillow.
It takes faith to find rest in a storm. Remember Jesus rebuke was the same in both cases, O you of little faith He was not saying they didn t have any faith but that their faith was weak, not strong like it should be. Faith is a discipline that takes practice to develop. It s like a muscle that needs to be exercised to be strong. The disciples and Peter s faith had not been exercised to become powerful. It doesn t take a lot of faith to see a miracle. It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to see a mountain cast into the sea. The power is not in the size of faith but in the object of faith, God. Faith is unwavering confidence in God s power. God is the one who is without measure and omnipotent. God is the one who does the impossible.
Resting securely in Christ in the midst of the raging storms, we can even dream. Dreams come when we are deep at rest. Focused on His power and love, He can take us deeper into His rest until we enter the realm of the Spirit and give us a peak into His wonderful plans for us. Dreams enhance our strength with hope showing us our bright future, all because we placed our trust in Him.
The storm may still be raging but we don t have to despair or be filled with fear. We can rest and even dream, Jesus is on board. There can't possibly be a safer, more restful place when we place our faith in Him.