Do you not care that we are perishing?
It was a bold, yet understandable question. It’s one we might be too afraid to ask God explicitly, but one we ponder in the depth of our heart. Jesus and the disciples were in the boat together when the great storm arose (Mark 4:35-41). The wind violently forced its way across the sea mindless of anything in its path. The joints of the boat were no match against the power of the waves and the wood began to splinter. Water filled the boat and it wouldn’t be much longer until all was lost.
In the midst of this madness, a man lay asleep in the stern of the ship. Not just any man, but the Son of Man himself, the one who created all things and sustains all things with his word. There he lay, asleep, doing nothing to fix the problem or comfort the distressed sailors. Perhaps the disciples speak for all of us when they ask, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
While we were not on the boat with them, we’ve gone through the same doubts. It may not be a relentless wind, but for us it’s an ongoing relationship struggle that has us on the brink of despair. Instead of crushing waves, we’re overcome by problems at work that seem to be without a solution. Stress and complications flood our life and we are on the verge of drowning.
And the Lord seems to be asleep, doing nothing.
It’s hard not to wonder “why?” Why doesn’t the Lord act faster? Why wait until the boat starts to flood? Why does he tarry?
Jesus eventually asked the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
He diagnosed their fear as a lack of faith. While struggling with my own doubt, I can easily judge the disciples for theirs. Didn’t they realize God was on the boat…how could they doubt? Surely they knew that the Son of Man didn’t come to earth to drown in the sea. Didn’t they realize Jesus was training them to be pillars of his church? Couldn’t they see he was going to protect them?
They, like us, were guilty of losing sight of the bigger picture. The promises of God can be difficult to hold onto in the midst of a whirlwind. While I can’t physically see Jesus with me, he promised he would be until the end of the age; yet, I still doubt when the storms come. Do I not realize God is going to protect me? Why am I so afraid? Oh me of little faith.
In spite of the doubting disciples, the Lord displays his sovereign power before their very eyes. He says, “peace” and the wind dies down. He says, “be still” and the waves obey. After such a miraculous display, the convicting question, “Have you still no faith?” stings even more. How could these disciples doubt the one to whom even the wind and waves obey? How could I doubt him?
The Lord will always work out his will in the lives of his children; sometimes he’ll redirect the storm, other times he’ll guide us through it. Sometimes he’ll wait until the boat is about to sink before he moves. Fear not, child of God, our lives are in his hands. The Israelites were slaves for 400 years and the Lord didn’t seem to do anything about it. Sarah, although promised a child, continued to be barren for 25 years. Joseph went through years of mistreatment and false allegations. Yet, in all these situations where it seemed like the Lord wasn’t working, he was getting his people in position to show his mighty power. He delivered his people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm, Sarah finally received the child of promise in her old age, and Joseph became the second most powerful man in Egypt and saved his family from famine. The words of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 come to mind: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” The passage goes on to tell us, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (vv.17-18).
When the wind is howling and the waves are overbearing, remember our Lord promised he would always be with us, even if it seems he’s asleep on the boat. He doesn’t always work according to our timing, but he is always at work. Our trust is not in ourselves or the circumstances we see around us, but rather in the Sovereign One whom even the wind and sea obey.