DayBreaks for 2/10/14 – Disappointment #6 – the Struggle in the Storm

DayBreaks for 2/10/14 – Disappointment #6 – The Struggle in the Storm

ship in storm 007 Fishing Boat in Trouble

Luke 8:23-25 (NLT) – As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. 24  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! 25  Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Thus ends the story of Jesus and his disciples in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, intriguingly, is sleeping. The disciples are not – they’re frantic. They are about to write their own epitaphs. And, they are clearly upset with Jesus. In Mark’s version, their question is a bit more pointed: “Don’t you care if we drown?!” Jesus woke, spoke a few words, and the storm was still. At least the storm on the sea. But the storm in their hearts was a storm of another kind.

Think about this a minute. Why were the disciples so surprised? And secondly, if they didn’t think he could do something to help, why did they awaken him? Why not let him go to the bottom in peaceful slumber?

I think John Koessler (The Surprising Grace of Disappointment) nailed it when he said he thinks these questions are the map of the landscape of our spiritual lives and our struggle with doubt. Jesus’ response: Where is your faith? is not easy to understand. Was he upset for being awakened? Probably not. He was used to interruptions, and even seemed to welcome them. Maybe he felt they were over-reacting. Most likely not, though, because these were men who knew these waters and knew how to survive in the storms that often swept up the lake. And Luke says the boat was being swamped. This was not faux danger…it was real, a life-and-death situation.

The disciples had demonstrated faith in Jesus by waking him. They clearly thought he’d do something. So what can Jesus’ statement mean: Where is your faith? Koessler suggests that perhaps what Jesus meant was Where is your faith in yourselves? In other words, Jesus may have been chiding them for not taking action, urging them to stop crying about the situation when they already had the skills they needed to tend the sails, man the oars, bail out the water. Could Jesus have been urging them to do all that they could before they came running to him?

God seems often to not do things except through the ordinary means of people and their own effort first. Jesus could have created fish and chips on the mountainside without any human involvement, but he used a boy with his own lunch to work the miracle.

Still, in this case, I think Jesus wasn’t talking about faith in their own efforts.  They seem to have done what they could and were at the end of their proverbial rope. They’d reached the end of what they could do and the boat was still being swamp, swallowed up by the storm.

But, get this, because it relates to our own struggles with faith and disappointment: to understand Jesus’ question about their faith, we need to take into account the their exclamation after he stills the storm: Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him! What does that tell us: that their cry in the storm was an expression of their need, but not of faith.

Bear in mind that it was Jesus who was responsible for their predicament: he’d set the plan in motion (at his request) to go across the lake to the other side to start with.  Much like the Israelites who complained to Moses in Exodus 14:11 about their predicament in the wilderness, the disciples statement was really a criticism of Jesus’ plan.

But Jesus statement explains the rebuke when seen in this light. He wasn’t upset because he’d been awakened, or was he upset with them seeking his help. He was disappointed with their lack of faith.  As Koessler said: Jesus was asleep in the boat, but He was not asleep at the wheel.

We know from the story what Jesus did for the disciples. But our uncertainty is whether or not He will do something for us. Not everyone who ever cried out to Jesus on the sea has survived. He doesn’t always speak to the wind and flying water and make it quiet. Sometimes, the ship goes down.

What are we to make of such things, especially when it involves those we love? Come back tomorrow and we’ll pursue this together further!

PRAYER: I can’t help but wonder, Lord, how many times you’ve looked at me and wondered, “Where is your faith?” I thank you for the reminder that you are always open to being awakened by my cries and that you do respond as you see fit. Thank you for the comfort of knowing that at the times I think you may be sleeping, you are not asleep at the wheel that directs my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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Thank you!

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