Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Asleep during the storm

"A furious storm came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly filled with water. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a pillow. The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Master, don't you care if we drown?' "

- Mark 4:37-38, NIV

Sometimes the idea of going through life's storms really scares me. I think that, when it comes down to it, I'm mostly afraid of being uncomfortable. For the most part, the waters in my life have been pretty calm. So, I really don't know the feeling of weathering a huge storm. Sure, I've had my fair share of doubts, pains, and hurts; but I've never been a real storm. I mean, I've lost loved ones to death, had my heart broken, dealt with questionable friendships, been poor, and struggled through school. But, all things being equal, I'd say that I've only had to deal with a few simple storms.

In fact, through it all, I'd actually say that I came out pretty good. I've managed to accomplish a few things in my life, maintained some solid relationships, stayed out of trouble (for the most part), and kept a pretty clear and sane mind (again, for the most part). I've always had a roof over my head. I've never gone without having food on my table (though, last week I only had eggs and a bag of beets in my fridge. But, I digress...). Most of all, I have God on my side.

Yet, I find myself afraid of some of life's troubles.

What's interesting to note about the disciples at sea was that, even when they had Jesus on their side, they were still afraid. They were afraid of the gushing water. They were afraid of the strong winds. But, mostly, they were afraid that Jesus didn't seem to care. After all, this dude was asleep at the bottom of the boat.

The truth is, I don't believe that Jesus was really too concerned about the storm. I mean, how else could He get in such a good nap, even in the midst of all the chaos? I can just see Jesus now: knocked out unconscious at the bottom of the ship, with a little drool hanging from His mouth, muttering something about a three-piece chicken dinner in His sleep. That type of peace tells me that for Jesus, the same storm that froze His disciples in fear, wasn't that big of a deal to Him. The last thing on Jesus' mind was some silly storm.

I think that it's important to realize that we will all face storms. It's almost inevitable. As we travel across our own personal sea, we're sure to face opposition from the storms of life. Though most of our storms aren't really that strong, sometimes they feel like they can be. That said, it's really easy to get rattled, to lose faith, and to live in fear. But going through storms is all a part of life. It's all a part of the transitions we take so that we can move from one place in our lives to another. And even when it feels like we're being overwhelmed by our fierce storms, we should be able to rest knowing that Jesus is still with us.

Now, I'll admit: Sometimes when problems get ahold of me, I want to head down to the botoom of the ship and, like the disciples, yell to Jesus: "Dude, don't you care if I drown?!" If I did, I think that He'd eventually wake up and calm the storm for me. But, I don't think He'd do it because I really needed to be saved from the storm, but rather to show me that He's always there for me. Just because it may appear that Jesus is sleeping, doesn't mean He's won't be there for us; and it certainly doesn't mean that He's not concerned about us. It's just that He's not worried by the problems that have us so perplexed.

So, if Jesus can sleep during the storm, why can't we?

- ACL

12 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Anonymous said...

This passage has always bothered me...because of the rebuke Jesus gives his disciples. Doesn't God want usto come to him even when we're afraid, even if the fear is out of proportion? Like a parent comforting their child who has had a nightmare

Diane said...

I think it's all a matter of perspective, Andre. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, and He knows how each storm, literal and figurative, is going to end. The human part of us naturally fears the destruction of the body, and the Spiritual part of us fears the destruction of the Spirit and the human body that houses the Spirit. Our body is the temple to the Holy Spirit which dwells within us if we're a born-again believer. From Jesus' perspective, He already knew about the disciples' unbelief, and that He would have to comfort them and calm the physical storm, and about their Spiritual storm that would shortly follow, when Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to comfort them and calm their Spiritual storm. Notice that Jesus didn't remove them from the storm. He was with them and comforted them THROUGH the storm, just as He is for us today. Occasionally He removes us from a storm of life, but most of the time He stays with us and comforts us through the storm, so we can grow and mature as Christians. The disciples had been with Jesus for almost 3 1/2 years, saw Him perform countless miracles, sat under His teaching all that time, and yet they still doubted and feared for their lives. How can we not do the same, without the benefit of having been in His physical presence? It's all about our daily walk with Him, resting in Him, and staying in His Spiritual presence. We may still be afraid of the storms of life, but we will be comforted and loved through them if we'll just call on Him and trust Him. The sooner we ask for His help and comfort, the sooner He will come to our aid. There is no shame in being afraid of the storms of life. If there is any shame, it's in not calling on God and then trusting Him to keep His promises that He will be with us always, even in the storms of life.
Great, thought-provoking post, as always. :-)

joel said...

Great post, Andre.

Above everything, I think that God longs for us to give Him our complete trust. All the things you mentioned in this post' the doubts, the fears, the worries... all demonstrate our lack of trust, and potentially our lack of understanding of our relationship with God. More than anything, He's telling us, don't fear, I am with you always.

No matter what we're going through, we know eventually everything will be OK. What greater promise can anyone hold to? What can bring us more peace? ... to know that everything will turn out as God designs is the essence of life itself.

kc said...

I don't want to say I've had a stormy life because compared to some, it's been smooth sailing. But there have been tragic moments where I have wondered if God cared. I never considered that that God may be nearby, just resting.

But what about times when a person cries out for God and He allows evil to take place? That's hard for me to understand and I think I still hold a grudge against God for some of the things that He allows.

Nevertheless, I know that God cares for us all, even if we don't always see it.

Nice post, Andre

natasha said...

Another beautiful post for the record!

Since we cannot see God face to face, it is hard at times when we are struggling to know if God is concerned about our suffering. And even though we can find comfort in the fact that He sees the bigger picture in the plan He has for us, we only see the situation in front of us, and we wish to be out of it. "Don't you care?!" I've screamed that more times than I can count. And when I reach the other side, I can see that God was with me the whole time, and He had a plan. And I love that He allows us to question Him even still, even when He always proves to know what He's doing by allowing us our trials.

"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:40

I'm trying Lord, I'm trying.....

Andre said...

Thanks to everyone for sharing your comments. I really needed the perspective. Your insight is MOST appreciated!

I believe that Jesus is with us when we suffer and -- maybe -- even suffers with us. It's this thinking that keeps me from, as KC put it, "holding a grudge" with Jesus when I face a little turbulence in my life.

Regardless to how rough things get, we can always find solace knowing that Jesus is on our side; calming our storms.

Diane said...

Andre, I realize this is off-topic from your post, but I really think you might be interested in this post, by an elder white woman about growing up with racial prejudice. She wasn't prejudiced, but she tells about some who were.

http://www.jboazphillippians4-judith.blogspot.com/

Let me know what you think.

Andre said...

Diane:

In some twisty way, this woman's post could actually relate to my post; especially when we equate racial discrimination, ignorance, and hatred to the "storms" that we face.

But -- as it relates to the post itself -- I was deeply disturbed by what I read. Though it was told within the context of years past, the fact is racism is still alive and well. Though institutional racism is not supported by legislation (well, in most cases anyway...), it's still around. I won't even go into individual racism. I mean, not too long ago, some man had the gall to tell me that "you people don't talk like that..." (presumably, he meant 'talked a little educated').

Some people would say that we've made progress, and I'm inclined to agree. Blacks are becoming entrepreneurs, self made millionaires, intellectuals, etc. But, there is still TONS of progress left to be made; especially considering that most of the conditions mentioned in this woman's post are still prevalent today. Being from Flint, MI (one of the poorest cities in Michigan), and moving to Grand Blanc, MI (one of the richest cities in Michigan), there are striking differences between the environments (schools, neighborhoods, etc.), the econonomies, and the social/political/legal climates. It's unnerving.

But, if there is one positive thing to take out of this, I'd say that it is the woman's post itself. I think that it's critical for whites to identify the privilege that comes with...well...being white. As a blacks, our outcries of racism and classism are so frequent that they are casually dismissed by the public square like a squeaky wheel. But, once racism is identified by the very group who benefits from it (even if the individual doesn't), that's true progress. So, by hearing a person who is not a racist herself being able to see what's going on, is encouraging and truly progressive.

Thanks for sharing that with me.

Barb said...

My mother, Judith, is probably the most compassionate person I've ever known and I've known all MY life that the injustices she witnessed and was forced to live with bother her to this day. I'm proud of her that at her age (I won't give up her age - after all, she IS a southern lady - but she's been around for a while) she's speaking out.

We're off the subject of this post (funny how the comments turn into a whole 'nother thing). I loved this post - very thought-provoking.

Mandy said...

Andre,

I am the daughter of Barb, and the grandaughter of Judith, and found my way to your site through them. My mom told me that I should read your post, so I did. I found it to be very thought provoking and profound.

I think it is extremely important to remember as Christians (and esp. for baby Christians like me) that Jesus does not have the intentions of taking storms away, or keeping them from happening. His promise was to see us through them. I, myself, try to remember that whatever storm is going on in my life (or not going on for that matter)it is happening because I am supposed to learn something from it and grow stronger in some way. If I grumble the whole time and get mad at God, what do I learn? Nada! I think this is a mistaken assumption many people make: "If I become a Christian, all my problems will go away." I like what my pastor says: Christianity and faith is not a pain-prevention plan.

Thank you thank you for such an uplifting post! I will return!

P.S: your profile says you are in education. What do you do? (If you don't mind me asking.)

Andre said...

@ Barb: I guess that a blog is worth a thousand words. I read your mother's posts and I immediately thought about some of the same things you said about her. And, from what I can, some of her has brushed off on you. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, huh?!

@ Mandy: For what it's worth, your perspective as a "baby Christian" is more insightful than most of the self-proclaimed "mature" Christians out there. Thank you for blessing me with your comments.

By the way, the "Education" title is a little overstated. I couldn't find anything close to percisely describing me. I'm actually a grad student and a research administrator at UM-Flint. I was a teaching assistant during my sophomore year in college, though. I guess that could count...

joanne said...

Beautiful post Andre. Simply beautiful! Once again, you've challenged me to look at my Jesus a little more different than I did the day before.