Our world is full of fear and uncertainty. Here in Nova Scotia, we’ve just passed through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve recently seen a mass shooting. Several Canadian air force personnel who were based in Nova Scotia died in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece. Society has changed in ways that threaten our values, beliefs, and way of living.
Have you ever thought that God was asleep during your time of need? Perhaps you called out to God at that time, but you didn’t hear an answer. Psalm 121:14 says that “He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” He is always there, but we must remember that He will answer our requests in His own time and in His own way.
Sometimes God uses the storms of life to teach us something or to accomplish other purposes. We might not like going through the storms of life but they can teach us things. There are things we can learn in hardship and crises that we can’t learn anywhere else.
This is why the passage from Matthew 8:23-37 might be helpful for us now. Matthew wrote his gospel for Christians in the latter half of the first century. They were battered and tempest-tossed by their circumstances. Many of them were facing hardship and ostracism and alienation from their families, friends and neighbours because of their commitment to Jesus. They were being discriminated and persecuted, sometimes to the point of death. The story of Jesus calming the storm resonated with them. It calmed their fears and gave them reason to hope that not all was lost. It gave them hope that at some point they would come through this storm.
The Sea of Galilee is famous for violent storms that occur without warning. When the terrified disciples awakened Him, Jesus first rebuked the disciples for their insufficient faith. Jesus reminded the disciples that when He is with us, we are safe. Only Jesus can get us through the storms of life. He then rebuked the wind and the sea so that a great calm descended upon them. Jesus is both the human being in need of rest and the Sovereign Creator who can calm a storm.
Jesus rebuked the disciples for their fear, but He also recognized the faith they did have. Faith copes with problems beyond our power by engaging God’s power. Jesus wasn’t bothered by the storm because He trusted that God would get Him and the disciples to the other side.
When the disciples asked Jesus for help, they showed confidence in Him. They went where sinners and Christians should always go when they feel that they are in danger. Only Jesus can save us from the storms of God’s wrath.
Jesus was constantly inviting His followers to witness and participate in situations that were beyond their understanding and their comfort level. He constantly says, “Believe in Me. Trust Me. Watch and see what I can do.” Jesus is inviting us to lead a different kind of life in our world.
Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. It unleashes a swarm of anger-stirring doubts. Fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is. Jesus takes our fears seriously. We don’t have to be afraid.
Stability in the storms of life comes not from seeking a new message, but from understanding an old one-namely, faithfully reading, studying and obeying God’s word. In this story, Jesus is the perfect picture of having God’s peace in the storm.
This story teaches us to speak to our fears. Jesus rises up and rebukes the wind and it ceases at the sound of his voice. We may not have the power to calm waves and storms, but there is power in our speech, and speaking boldly to our fears can help us overcome them.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New Kings James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 32-33)
- Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
- Augsberger, M.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 24: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; p. 18)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1307-1308)
- Pastor David McGee, “You Have Been Called.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Br. David Vryhof, “When Fear is All Around.” Retrieved from www.ssje.org
- Pastor Greg Laurie, “Always Watching.” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
- Pastor Greg Laurie, “Hurricane Grace.” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
- Max Lucado, “The Effects of Fear.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Allen Jackson, “Ordinary People-Extraordinary Path.” Retrieved from email@example.com