If you had to describe what’s happening around us in one word, what would it be? One word that comes to mind for me is “chaos.” There’s chaos in the economy, chaos in my typical sports-viewing habits, chaos in the grocery store, and with school getting canceled, there’s about to be a lot of chaos in my home! If you had to paint a picture of that — of “chaos”, what would you paint? The single-clearest image that emerges in my mind is a storm. It feels like we’re in a storm right now, doesn’t it?
There’s a famous story about Jesus being in a storm. And what makes it famous is what Jesus was doing — He was sleeping. Mark says when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” (Mark 4:35). Of the lake, that is. These unsuspecting disciples shuffled into a boat, where within a few brief moments, they were fighting for their lives (or so they thought). The storm that blew in was enough to make experienced fishermen like Peter and James panic, and panic they did. Meanwhile, Jesus was in the stern of the boat, asleep! The disciples woke him up (in a not-so-subtle way, I’m guessing) and said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v.38). And Jesus calmed the sea and rebuked the disciples: “Why are you so afraid. Have you still no faith?” (v.40).
We don’t know what was in Jesus’ mind, but I imagine the question, “Don’t you care?” struck a nerve (a righteous anger kind of nerve). Because for Jesus, who had left the comforts of Heaven to live a life of brokenness, the whole reason He was in the boat was because He cared! Soon after this miracle, He would go to Jerusalem, where He would suffer and die. Why? So that these disciples, and generations of knuckleheads like them (me included), could be forgiven. Jesus cared and does care to the infinite degree!
And there we have it — the secret to being calm in chaos. When we understand that Jesus went into the ultimate storm for us, we can be grounded while the oceans roar around us. These same disciples who questioned Jesus’ care would suffer and die for their faith in Jesus years later. They were put in chains, they were hanged, they were thrown to lions, but they would not let go of their faith. Why? They knew that Jesus CARED, because they had seen the ultimate display of Jesus’ self-giving love on Calvary and they were transformed.
We will not always know why storms happen in our lives and in our world. But we can know what the answer can’t be. It CAN’T be that God doesn’t love us. And we know that, because Jesus Christ became “God with us” and entered into our broken world. He got in the boat with us and went to the cross on our behalf. Let that reality give your heart courage as you face the storms around you today.
Matt Murphy is lead pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City.