Matthew 8:23-27: “And when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
We have all experienced times when things around us fall apart. While in this storm, rather than turning immediately to God for help, we tend to hold onto the belief that we can, by our own powers and resources, get through it, correct the problem, and get things back on course.
In today’s Gospel, we encounter an example of this behavior. We know that at least four of the twelve disciples on the boat that day were commercial fishermen. They certainly knew how to navigate through stormy waters. This is why when the wind initially came up and the waves began to swell, they probably weren’t all that worried, they’d navigated through worse. But the storm grew, and the waves increased, and controlling the boat became impossible. Only then do the disciples turn to Jesus. They wake him up with these words, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
Jesus sits up, rubs the sleep out of his eyes, looks around at the situation and notices the petrified look on the disciples faces and says, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith? Calm and chaotic are two emotions that don’t seem to fit well together, but that’s Jesus right here.
Calm amidst the chaotic.
When I was young, my father decided he needed to teach me how to float on my back. So, he took me to a pool, turned me over on in the water, and told me to stretch out. As soon as I did, the water began to come up over my face. In panic, I spun around and began dog paddling towards the side of the pool. My dad though, grabbed hold of me. Returning me to my back, he made this comment, “Dan, the secret to floating on your back is to relax, even when the water runs up over your face.”
We tried again and again and each time I would panic, and each time my Dad would say, “I’ve got you Dan, just relax.” But relaxing was hard and my inability to do so, wasn’t because I didn’t have faith in my Dad, it was just that I didn’t have ENOUGH faith in him.
The problem the disciples had that day on that boat was a DEPTH of faith issue. That’s why Jesus posed the question he did: “Why are you afraid, you of LITTLE faith?” It wasn’t that the disciples didn’t have any faith in Jesus, it was that they didn’t have enough faith in him.
The disciple’s behavior often mirrors our response to chaos: At first we think, that we are strong enough, powerful enough, and smart enough to get out of the situation. When that fails and the storm gets worse, we finally turn to Jesus for help. Like the disciples, the question in our lives at that moment isn’t whether or not we have faith in Jesus’ powers, the real question is, do we have ENOUGH faith in Jesus to trust he will lead us safely through the storm.
The disciples found that Jesus was strong enough.
The next time, you face a mighty storm, turn to Jesus and let him show you, you can trust him completely as well.
~ God bless, Dan