Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm. (Matt 8:23-26, NLT)
I am very aware of the fact that the Bible is a living word that speaks into the situation that I find myself in. So often I read a passage and it means something different or something more than it ever did before.
Sometimes, though, I think this is often the case because I don’t think deeply enough about it – I just scan read, just as I have always skimmed the passage in the past. I miss something, or put something in that was never there. This passage in Matthew is one such story.
The disciples are terrified, they think they are going to drown. There is only one way out, and that is to waken Jesus and get him to fix it. Sure enough, Jesus wakens up, sees that they are afraid, tells them off, then tells the storm off. Everything is calm, problem gone, and… all together now…Relax…
But the problem is that I see stuff in the story that isn’t in the words. In fact, I have a choice of such mistakes!
The first mistake is that I think the story is telling me that whenever I am in a storm, all I need to do is call on Jesus. He will fix it, deal with it all, make it go away. No more storm.
The second mistake is that I wonder why Jesus rebukes them. He says they have so little faith. If they had more faith, faith the size of a mustard seed, even, then they would be able to rebuke the storm themselves. Miracle DIY.
The thing is that Jesus didn’t tell them to do either of these things. He simply told them that there was no reason for them to be afraid, and rebuked them for not having enough faith. He doesn’t say that they had to use their faith for anything other than helping them in not being afraid. He was beside them, that was all they needed in the storm.
We will face storms, and many of them will be terrifying, life-threatening. We shouldn’t wonder whether they will disappear at the snap of divine fingers. The Bible doesn’t tell us that they will. The Bible tells us not to fear. Sometimes we won’t be able to see a way out, sometimes we won’t be able to see a way through. But there is one – we just cannot always see it right away.
Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there! (Ps 77:19, NLT)