Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
Key verses: (37-39) 37A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
Reflection: Storms come in many forms: A medical crisis. A broken relationship. Suffering at home or abroad. Division in a family, a church, or a nation. I picture the disciples in the boat frantically bailing water, hoping that they could hold out until the storm passed. Or perhaps they were stunned by what was happening, and paralyzed by fear. More likely their reactions were mixed, as peoples’ often are.
When Hurricane Matthew made its way up the coast of Florida this summer, my parents and two sisters were hunkered down in my childhood home in Jacksonville. One sister and her family had heeded warnings to come inland, and evacuated from near the coast. They felt safe. According to the city maps, however, they had left the coast and moved into a mandatory evacuation zone on the river. My older sister, in town from Chicago, grew increasingly worried as the storm approached. She had left Illinois and flown into a hurricane. I took a slightly hysterical call from her in the middle of the long day the storm moved north, thankfully further offshore than predicted. The difference in my sisters’ reactions stemmed mostly from their perspectives. One felt safer at my parents’ home. The other felt more vulnerable.
When Jesus stood up in the boat with his disciples and calmed the storm he asked, ““Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” The storm they were experiencing was frightening at the time. But it was nothing compared to what was still ahead of them, as they made their way towards Jerusalem. The answer to weathering the storm on the sea, and whatever storms came next, was to keep their eyes on Jesus. It wouldn’t always be clear what he was up to, or if he was even awake and paying attention. And it would require action on the part of his followers. But mostly it meant keeping the right perspective, and keeping their trust in Jesus. Trust in the one who can still the sea, open the eyes of the blind, feed the hungry, heal the hurting, and lift up the oppressed. May we do the same.
Prayer: Lord, you know we don’t like storms. When they come we are frightened and worried. Be with all those who are in the middle of one. Attune our eyes and ears to recognize the suffering of others if they are afraid and we are not. Help us focus on you, trust in you, and follow you through whatever lies ahead. We pray in the name of the one who says “Peace,” our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].