NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!
From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:
The gospels record for us the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arises. While the disciples are trying to save their skin from the raging storm, Jesus sleeps. I don’t know how many of you have ever been in a serious earthquake, but it certainly gets your attention! It would be hard to sleep through a “big one”. The word that Matthew uses to describe the storm is one we don’t usually associate with the ocean. He used the term seismos to describe the violence of the storm. This is the same word we use to describe an earthquake – seismographs record the shaking of the earth. Matthew uses this word on two other occasions, too: 1) when the earth shook at Jesus’ death; 2) when the earth shook at Jesus’ resurrection. Clearly, this was a terrific storm to have qualified for the word seismos! Yet one gets the sense that Jesus would and could have just kept sleeping through the entire “seismic” event.
It is instructive to see what fear does to the disciples when this storm hits them. First, though, let’s notice that the storm came “suddenly” upon them. It hadn’t been building for some time – it was not stormy one moment, and then the weather changed – FAST! Some of the storms that bring fear into our lives are long, drawn out storms that we can see coming and that stay for a long time. Others, like this storm, take us by surprise. Either way, there are things we need to learn about what fear does to us from this story:
FEAR CAUSES THEM TO QUESTION JESUS’ CARE FOR THEM. They asked Jesus, after waking him up, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” They immediately question Jesus’ goodness and the genuineness of His care for them. Doesn’t that sound familiar? When storms hit many people – their first reaction is “What’s wrong with You, God? I thought you cared about me!” This is one of the most tragic effects of fear – even on His closest followers.
FEAR CAUSES THEM TO BECOME CONTROL FREAKS. Implicit in their criticism that Jesus must not care for them is the unspoken demand that He should care about them and that it is about time that He demonstrates that! Fear arises because we suddenly find things spinning out of our control, so we grab on to something that gives us at least the illusion of having control. For some, they run to the cupboard and pull out chocolate, others will reach for the bottle or work extra hours or clean the house until it is spotless all in an effort to have some control and sense of being in control.
FEAR CAUSES THEM TO NOT SEEK JESUS’ HELP: It is interesting that the disciples do not ask Jesus to do anything. Instead, they accuse him, as already noted, of not caring.
FEAR CAUSES THEM TO FORGET REASONS THEY SHOULD BELIEVE: Don’t forget that these are men who have been with Jesus for a while – they’ve seen him do amazing things such as give healing to the sick, sight to the blind, strength to shriveled and crippled limbs, turn water into wine and cast out demons. Shouldn’t all those things have been enough to create belief? Yes, they should…but fear does funny things to us and makes us forget prior deliverances and demonstrations of God’s power and love.
These are all daunting problems created by fear, but the worst of all may be that when we are afraid, our safety becomes the primary thing in our life. As Max Lucado put it, our fear-driven concern for our safety becomes our god until the storm has passed. It was so with the disciples – even though God was riding in the boat with them.
PRAYER: Lord, forgive us for questioning your care for us, for trying to control you and our circumstances, for trying to order you around, for not seeking your assistance, for forgetting all the reasons we have to trust in your goodness and love. Don’t let us make our own safety our god! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>