The disciples must have wondered what hit them. One moment they are enjoying sailing on Sea of Galilee, the next rowing for their lives. From out of nowhere the storm had struck. How long they struggled is not mentioned
however it must have been an extended period of time. Did they wonder, ‘where was their Lord when they needed Him’? Why hadn’t He come to their aid? He’d been there for them before when they were in similar strife. At that time they woke Him because of their fear. He stilled that storm (Matthew 8:23–28). Where was He in this one?
In everyday Christian living, sudden, unexpected ‘storms’ blow down upon us. These may be theological issues, personality conflicts or financial difficulties, to name just three. Each one is whipped up or made worse by the bad breath of Satan. Our ‘rowing harder’ is usually in the form of increasingly urgent prayers and making promises. In this mix are questions about where in all of this is the Lord?
Prior to the storm Jesus had gone into a mountain for two reasons. One was to get away from an emotional crowd of ‘king makers’ after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1–3). It was also to pray. Was it also to give space for the disciples to experience another Faith lesson? Being Passover the moon would have been full and Jesus could have seen their struggles. Why didn’t He go immediately to their aid? Only He knows the real reason. We can only surmise. If we are honest with ourselves, similar emotions play in our minds when we face such times.
According to the Scriptures Jesus is our ever present companion. His assurance to never forsake us is intellectually comforting when the going is smooth. The problem comes in the storm. Emotion devours the confidence of faith. The physical swamps the spiritual. We don’t ‘feel’ the closeness of our Lord and Saviour and we wonder ‘where is He?’ It doesn’t mean He has withdrawn from us. It may be He has something of a Faith lesson for us to experience. He is praying for us similar to the prayer He prayed for Peter, ‘I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ (Luke 22:32).
Within our nature there is a perverse streak. It imagines Jesus should be at our beck and call. What an insipid, spineless disciple we would be if Jesus simply allowed us to ‘sail over the mill pond of life to Heaven’s shore?’ Life isn’t like that in this fallen soul saturated playground of the Devil (1 John 5:19). To exercise our call to be trust and follow Christ Jesus means we are to be witnesses unto Him. In turn that means we are to prove Him faithful and his Word true in all of life’s rough and tumble. We must face the natural and the spiritual storms of life by faith, perseverance and a godly attitude. Only then will faith be firm not fanciful.
Why didn’t the rowing disciples abandon the boat? One reason may well be that to do so would find them in greater peril. The only real option was to ‘hang in there’ and see how the Lord would act. Patience and perseverance are different aspects of trust in the goodness of God. The former seems to embrace a waiting in comfort or anxiety. The latter is shrouded in pain and strife, the gritting of the teeth and the steeling of the heart to hold on until God acts. It is an attitude which believes and knows from previous experiences God is good and His promises are reliable.
How strange it is to read the attitude of the disciples when Jesus turned up. Thinking He was a ghost they were terrified. His reassuring words of self disclosure must have calmed their hearts long before they realised the wind and waves had abated. Many of us can undoubtedly identify with the disciples’ confusion and then relief. So often when the Lord acts in our own ‘storms’ we fail to recognise Him. This isn’t because of unbelief or ignorance but from weariness from the struggle to stay ‘afloat.’ After we recover our breath and realise the terror has passed we should bend knee in praise and gratitude.
Reflection: Are there ‘storms’ brewing around me? Am I confident in God’s grace? Do I understand that the Lord is never late to intervene? What we see in His delay is Christ’s way to deepen our faith.
Request: Help me to trust you in the ‘squalls and storms’ of life. Tune my ear to hear your voice and know your peace above the roar of the ‘waves’.