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Calm....IN the storms

stormy lake

The hurricane which is roaring through Louisiana and other states as I write this seems like an appropriate metaphor for our current times. There are so many storms in our world right now – CoVid restrictions, rioting, racial issues, political turmoil, conflict with friends, feeling isolated and alone – I could go on, but let’s get to the more encouraging part.

I am drawn to the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41).  He was in a small boat on a lake when...

 “a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.”

Jesus was asleep?? I can imagine that if I were one of the disciples, I would likely have been filled with a mixture of different emotions at that point, yet Jesus was  calm enough to sleep.  I can totally identify with their shocked question to Jesus –

“Teacher, do you not care that we are PERISHING?” (emphasis mine).

I confess, I feel like those disciples too often these days.  I get very nervous when a conversation gets close to touching on a controversial issue. I shy away from conflict, even before it starts. I am fearful, and I want Jesus to FIX IT NOW.

Let’s read further in this story:

“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.”

Can you imagine the stillness in that boat when the storm stopped? Can you feel the tension flowing out of the disciples and as they realized what had just happened, the fear, confusion and complete gratitude they felt? They experienced what can happen when Jesus brings peace to a storm in a dramatic way.

Jesus’ next words make me bow my head in awe, as well as make me want to shrink away in shame.

“He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you STILL no faith?” (emphasis mine, again)

Oh brothers and sisters, I cringe when I see myself as one of the disciples whose faith is not sufficient to be assured of His protection and care. I want to call out to Jesus – “Do you not care that we are perishing???”

And therein lies the key, I think. I do believe that He cares, and that He is able to calm the storms, but my unbelief is always lurking in the background. My unbelief causes me to doubt in His goodness and sufficiency in ALL situations, even a pandemic and national elections!

This past Sunday’s sermon text has the answer:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, My salvation and my God.”

Psalm 42:11

Hope in God. That's what I have been lacking. He can and will carry us through these storms and keep us united as brothers and sisters, even when our spirits are flagging. He is sufficient for all disagreements, for every situation where we doubt His goodness, for all of our grief and all of our feelings of loneliness. 

“Peace! Be still!”

“Hope in God.”

I want those two commands to characterize my heart, my mind and my actions. To fill my heart with confidence that the One who calmed the storm on the lake will calm the storms in my own heart. And to help me to be an agent of His peace, reflecting the goodness of Jesus to his doubting disciples, as we relate to one another and to the world around us.

 

 

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