The last few months have brought heartache to our family, with my husband’s parents passing away within 7 months of each other. We now are in the process of closing out their home of 40 years, which brings another layer of sadness.
As a Police Commander, my husband also had had to lead in many different stressful situations within the department in the last three years.
Now, we are already in the busy tornado season here in Texas.
It’s almost like if one thing won’t get you, something else will.
Just one storm after another.
Today I was reminded of a group of fishermen who were sure that they wouldn’t get through a storm while on the Sea of Galilee.
A historian and physician, known as Luke, records the event as it was told to him by first-person accounts:
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So, they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)
To better understand the setting of this story, the Sea of Galilee is not actually a sea. It is a freshwater lake (Israel’s largest), approximately eight miles wide, thirteen miles long. Just follow the Jordan River north along the border of Israel and Jordan, and this sea is the only large body of water in the northern part of Israel. The largest city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is Tiberius, a pilgrimage still today for Jews and Christians. South of the town, Hamat Tiberias National Park is home to famed mineral hot springs dating to antiquity (Google Maps).
In this account, Jesus was with this group of disciples, traveling in a group of boats to the other side of the lake to Decapolis. When the fierce storm (or squall) came down on the lake, the disciples were terrified as the high waves started crashing over the side and water started to fill the boats.
Storms on this sea were no laughing matter. This shallow lake is roughly 700 feet below sea level and surrounded by huge hills upwards to 2,000 feet high, a source of cool, dry air. However, semi-tropical conditions of warm, moist air are directly around the sea. These two differences cause temperature and pressure changes, resulting in intense winds swirling down to the sea. As a result, the sea is subject to sudden and violent storms as an east wind blows over the warm air that covers the sea.
Four fishermen were part of Jesus’s twelve disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. With their years of experience, these men were seasoned to the temperaments of the lake and could steer and maneuver their boats through the high winds and dangerous waves these storms commonly caused.
But this day was different. This time they thought they wouldn’t make it.
This “storm of wind” (what it’s called in the King James Version of the Bible) is from the Greek word “lailaps” which means that this storm with its high winds was like a hurricane!
They had reason to be terrified.
You may know the rest of the story. The disciples woke up Jesus (yes, he was still sleeping!) yelling, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Jesus simply got up, rebuked the wind, and told the waves to be still.
Then, it was completely calm.
We are now in a stormy season. We are asked to stay at home to “flatten the curve” of this coronavirus. We must maneuver through family dynamics that have changed. There are shortages of some items in the stores. We are scared to even to out to the store. You may have lost your job or income because you are not allowed to go out to work. Masks are the new normal. And some are in the serious storm of having the virus itself.
It feels like a hurricane.
And while we can ask the same question of Jesus: “Don’t you care that I’m drowning over here?” and react to our circumstances with anxiety and fear, we as Christ-followers forget one important thing.
He does care.
How do we know this? Let’s go back. To the beginning.
At the start of this event, Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side.” In this simple statement, Jesus already knew that the voyage across the Sea of Galilee would be successful. There was no promise that it would be smooth sailing, but they would make it.
If the disciples had remembered King David’s song in Psalm 107, they would have known that they would have been saved. David wrote about merchants who went to sea in mighty waters, only to fall victim to the high and mighty waves. Their courage melted away and they also cried out to the Lord.
But the Lord saw them too and saved them from distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves, bringing them safely into the harbor. (Psalm 107:23-31)
A favorite quote of mine is from Max Lucado’s book, You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Time:
“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime, don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”
Because of Easter and the risen Christ, we have hope.
This Hope promises that He will be an anchor for our soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).
This Hope assures us that He sees us, cares for us and will bring us safely to the other side. (1 Peter 5:7)
This Hope offers us peace regardless of the circumstances. (John 14:27)
Whatever storm you are going through right now, be assured that with Jesus in the boat, you will make it to the other side. And yes, it won’t be easy or quick. But know that God can and will make all things come together for good. (Romans 8:28)
Other references to this event: Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25, and more info on this Facebook post by Pastor Greg Laurie from Harvest Ministries.
Scripture references are linked to BibleGateway for the reader’s convenience.