“Fear is the greatest enemy of our faith.” – Alan Redpath, The Making Of a Man of God
“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” – Matthew 8:23-27
The disciples were seasoned fisherman who had spent countless hours on the sea! Each of the men combined had encountered more storms than they could possibly count. While traveling upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee, it was not uncommon for storms to come from out of nowhere. The frequent storms that occurred in the Sea of Galilee was because of an opening between two mountains that surrounded the waters. The opening created an open door for warm winds off of the Mediterranean Sea to blow upon the waters of Galilee and stir up fierce waves. Fierce waves shouldn’t have been a shock to the disciples of Jesus, but on this day it was different. The waves were greater than they had experienced before.
This was a storm more fierce than any one of them could recall in all of their experience on the waters fishing.
When the storm hit, the men immediately relied upon their years of training. Fishermen, no doubt would have turned the bow of the boat in the direction of the oncoming waves to prevent being capsized. The disciples did everything seasoned, trained seamen would do in the midst of such a storm, but it wasn’t working. As a result of their failing efforts, the men began to panic! Throughout the raging waters and overwhelming fear the disciples were experiencing, Jesus remained sound asleep in the boat. He wasn’t awakened by the sound of the wind howling, the waves beating upon to boat, or the shouting of the disciples, He slept like a rock! Either Jesus was very tired or He was a very sound sleeper because nothing seemed to awaken Him! I wish I could sleep like that!
The picture of Jesus asleep in the boat presents a powerful spiritual picture for us! You see, we all go through storms on a regular basis that can completely catch us off guard. Storms surprisingly come out of nowhere, like the wind coming over the mountains from the Mediterranean Sea that created such a storm experienced by the disciples. Our peaceful life can suddenly be stirred up by a notice of layoffs at work, a diagnosis of a serious injury, or a child who has gotten into serious trouble. These unexpected turns in life send waves of discouragement and despair crashing over our lives. But as Jesus was asleep in the midst of that storm, our Heavenly Father is at rest in the midst of our storms. The winds and waves of life that crash into us and over our lives never take Him by surprise. The Father is at rest, and He wants us to be at rest as well.
As I read this story here in Matthew chapter eight, I am not at all surprised by the disciple’s reaction. I have reacted that way and worse many, many times in the midst of the storms that have blown into my life. Mark in his gospel, which is Peter’s account of the life of Christ, adds this interesting phrase from the disciples, “The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
It is so easy to jump to that conclusion in the midst of the storm, isn’t it? Lord, don’t you care? That is the problem, you don’t care about me, you don’t care about my family. I’m sad to say that I have uttered those words in my heart more times than I care to admit. I am not surprised at all by the reaction of the disciples because I have reacted that way before, and my guess is that you have as well.
What I find really intriguing is our Lord’s response to them. He says, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” In other words, “You guys should know I’ve got this!” Jesus literally asks them, “Why are you afraid?” Now pause for a moment and think about that statement. Are you fearful right now about anything? Why are you afraid? Perhaps you are afraid because you don’t know how something is going to end. Perhaps you are afraid because a situation you are in doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction. Maybe you are afraid because you are hurting, and you’re wondering, is this hurt going to grow? Is it going to turn into an even bigger wound? When Jesus asked the question, he was really making a statement, “Guys, you shouldn’t be afraid because I am with you! Have faith in me!” Jesus says the same thing to us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
The question He asks, “Why are you afraid?” He has a simple answer: We fear because we doubt that He is really with us. We fear because we doubt that He is for us. We fear because we doubt that He really cares! The Lord would say to us, “Look to Calvary, look to the cross. I cared enough to send My Son to die in your place. I cared enough to make a way for you to become Mine. Do you think that I would go through all of that, and then abandon you now? NO WAY, JOSE or Suzy, or you fill in the blank whatever your name is.”
Listen, friend, Jesus is with us through and through. Jesus is for us all the way. If you read the rest of Matthew 8, you will see that the disciples made it to the other side and we will too. The question is, are we going to make it freaking out, or having faith in the One who loves us and gave Himself for us, the One who promises He will never leave us or forsake us?