Jesus Calms the Storm
'He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm'.
Imagine yourself on a beach, standing ankle deep in water. The water rising over your knees with every wave. It’s strong enough to notice, but you can keep your footing and remain standing. Now imagine standing on the same beach, but in deeper water, up to your neck. As each wave reaches you, the water rises above your head and you become submerged. Panicking, you struggle to breathe, struggle to stand and become all consumed with getting back to shore.
This is a useful analogy for thinking about stress, shared with me by my ‘wise-beyond-her-years’ niece during a chat we had the other day. If our starting point in life is being neck deep in water, even the smallest wave can tip us over and wreak havoc.
Reflecting on this, my thoughts turned to the world in which we live today and how much has changed during my 40 (ish!) years on this earth. On the one hand, we have never had it better: plentiful resources, safety, shelter, technology, globalisation and opportunity. But life in 2022 can also be a total assault on the senses and overwhelmingly stressful: technology relentlessly pecking at us for our attention, unrealistic comparisons with strangers we see online, careers, families and a total lack of peace.
Oh, and throw in a global pandemic, seismic political shifts (the ‘B’ word), rising cost of living and a mental health crisis for good measure too..
With all these challenges, how easy it is to forget the promises and reverence of Jesus - “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”.
Mark’s account of Jesus calming the storm is a well-known passage and I must admit, I’ve sometimes glibly referred to this story to people going through difficulties. “Don't worry about the health problems / family issues / career difficulties” (insert any of life’s challenges here), “just remember Jesus was asleep during a storm, so he wasn’t worried, and then he told the waves to stop...so cheer up, you’ve got nothing to worry about!”
It’s one of the passages that is easy to say & read, but harder to let sink in…really sink in. This all happens after Jesus has spent the day teaching his followers using parables. The disciples lived daily with Jesus and “The secret of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11) had been given to them. Despite this, the disciples still feared for their lives in the boat as the storm battered them. But Jesus was direct, firm and utterly assured - “He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”” (Mark 4:40).
So, let me try and encourage you, especially those struggling with the storms of life, of drowning under each passing wave, Jesus is the Alpha, the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He came to rescue us, set us free from sin and give us peace. Meditate and pray deeply on this truth and I’m certain you’ll be able to face life standing in shallow waters.
Heavenly Father, thank you that all powerful, creator of heaven and earth. Thank you, that in your mercy, you care about the details of our lives. Help us to trust in you and your purpose for our lives, and give us your peace. Amen.
James Thornton 07/02/2022