When I’m in a crisis – mercifully, not often – I know the roller coaster ride, that cycle of anxiety, getting to calm (usually in response to good news, not because of my faith…), then being jolted back to panic by the next bit of less-good news. It can be hard to put my trust in Jesus in the face of all the information coming in. I deserve the words Jesus had for his disciples once the seas were still: “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’”
Why does fear grip us? Because when winds whip up and waves crest our bow, that’s all we can see. And anxious situations do more than define our present – they dominate our thoughts of the future as well. And the past, where so often we’ve been delivered from what we most feared? That recedes when the thunder and lightning start.
How can we stay focused on the One in the stern rather than the storm all around us? There’s an interesting “throwaway” line at the start of this story:
I don’t know – but I take it as a reminder that we always get Jesus with us “just as he is,” which is rarely how we expect him to be. He is so different from us, so unphased by what troubles us. He may be compassionate, but he is never hooked by the anxiety swirling around us. So in difficult times, we can ask him to reveal himself in that situation “just as he is,” to let us see his reaction so we can borrow that instead of staying locked in our own fear.
And then, when we experience the peace we so badly need, we can take our cue from the disciples: “And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
We need to speak of our experiences and tell everyone around us, not forget about it the minute the crisis is over. Our stories of deliverance might sound crazy– but so did the disciples when they told of the storm and the sudden calm. Yet many must have heard that story and believed it, for it was passed along and shared and finally written down by Mark, from whom Matthew and Luke got it… and so to us.
We have this story to build our faith. We need to tell each other our “God stories” to build each other's faith. Bigger storms may come, but we can allow ourselves to come to know and trust this Jesus of Nazareth, who lives among us even now, who can command the wind and the sea – and even our feeble human hearts when we say "yes."