It had been a long day of teaching for Jesus. The crowds that had gathered around Him were so large that He had gotten into a boat and taught from a little way offshore. The people in front of Him were eager to hear what He had to say.
However, I can imagine there like were a lot of other things on His mind that day.
The Pharisees and the Herodians were planning to kill Him.
The Teachers of the Law were claiming that He was possessed by the devil.
His own family thought that He had lost His mind.
Was there anyone who would stand by Him?
Despite all those warring thoughts, He taught with compassion, creativity and truth. After His lengthy teaching time, He said to His disciples,
“Let us go over to the other side of the lake.”
The disciples immediately took Him in the boat, just as He was – tired, hungry, pensive – and they crossed to the other side. It must have felt good to have His disciples around Him. They were people with whom He could be Himself, with whom He could feel safe. In fact, He was finally able to surrender to the exhaustion that He was feeling, and He fell asleep. The disciples would get Him across the lake. They would make sure He was safe.
But circumstances put their faith to the test.
While He slept, dark clouds began to roll in over the Sea of Galilee. The wind started to pick up. The calm waters began to break in rough whitecaps. And a storm began to grow. Soon, the storm was furious. The waves assaulted the boat, breaking over the sides. It seemed as if death was upon them; that the boat would surely sink.
The disciples panicked, similar to us in the storms of our lives. In their panic, they did something very right and something very wrong.
The right thing they did was they woke Jesus up. They realized that their only hope was in their Saviour, and they turned to Him in their time of need.
The very wrong thing they did was react out of fear and a complete lack of faith.
They shouted above the waves, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Don’t. You. Care?
That’s a pretty hefty accusation.
What else might they have said?
“Jesus, we are in trouble, and we aren’t sure what to do.”
“Jesus, we just want you to know that your life may be in danger.”
“Jesus, how can we help all the other boats who are with us?”
They don’t say any of these things. Their request was self-focused.
Their request implied that Jesus was heartless.
Their request assumed that death was the probable outcome.
How could they do that when they had seen Jesus already do so many amazing things? Well, before we judge these guys for their lack of faith, we’d best be sure to look at our own situations.
In 2011, when I lost my job as a pastor because of stress and an anxiety disorder and because of my failing kidneys. It felt like the storm was becoming furious. With the loss of the job came a loss of financial security, a loss of significance, a loss of identity, and a loss of purpose. I had hoped that Jesus would step in and stem the tide, but disaster just kept coming my way. In fact, for the next several years, things went from bad to worse.
Was Jesus asleep in the boat?
There were many times when I cried out to Him with some of the same words that the disciples used. “Don’t you care if I drown?”
Have you ever felt that way?
These are very difficult days. Difficult for us as men. Difficult for us as families. We can feel loss at every turn.
And we can question God’s love for us. Suffering makes us do that. We don’t question God’s love when things are going great. However, when things go south, it is easy to begin to doubt.
Does Jesus really care for us? Is that even a good question to ask?
Jesus didn’t seem to have a problem answering it. In Matthew 10, He lays out the situation pretty clearly.
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30
In Psalm 139, the case is made just as clearly.
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
The problem is not about God’s love for us, the problem is our faith and our trust in that love. The issue is with us.
As people of faith, will we trust God? Will we believe that Jesus does, in fact, care even if our situation ends in death?
We can live with supreme confidence that God is in control and that we are deeply loved by Him. Jesus gave His life for us. He suffered and died for us. Could He possibly forget about us now? Absolutely not; we are engraved on the palms of His hands.
Instead of complaining and accusing out of fear, let us live as men of faith, confidently trusting that Jesus knows what He is doing, and optimistically looking forward to the opportunities and joy that He will bring our way.