“Why are you terrified?”

Many of us are terrified today. But we don’t have to be, as we learn in Mark 4:35-41. God is there for us; we just need to have faith.

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

I cannot begin to imagine what it would have been like to be out on the water with Jesus and the disciples when that violent squall came up, waves breaking over the boat and filling it with water. I’ve lived near Lake Michigan a good part of my life and I have seen what violent storms do on the piers along the shore and how frightening those can be. But I can imagine I would have been afraid in the situation described in this passage from Mark.

Yet, the disciples wake Jesus and he commandingly¬†tells the storm and the waters to be still, and they obey. “Why are you terrified?” he asks the disciples. “Do you not yet have faith?” Was He challenging their faith or trying to calm them? Was He trying to reassure them of His own power or teach them about their own abilities to command nature? In other Gospel passages, Jesus teaches that with faith we can move mountains; whether He meant that literally or figuratively we don’t know. The passage does end with the disciples saying, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

To me, this sends a powerful message to all of us. God is our creator and our sustainer. He loves us and protects us in our times of need. Jesus has told us that whatever we need, if we ask the Father in Jesus’ name the Father will provide. And in many Gospel passages, when Jesus heals someone or brings them back to life, he says it is by their faith that it is done. It has been my experience that when I ask the Father for something I need – really need, not just something I want – and when I know in faith that He will provide it, He provides it, especially when I turn over my fears to God’s will. “Let it be as you will, Father.” I stop being terrified and I trust God.

“Why are you terrified?” Jesus asks. “Do you not yet have faith?” It takes time to learn how to turn ourselves over to God’s will, to have faith, and to stop being terrified. But if we believe that God loves us and if we love God, that’s what it takes.

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