Summary: Trust is an essential element in any relationship, including our relationship with God. Here Jesus teaches his followers to trust God more.
Following Jesus through the Storm
Jesus said that the single greatest command is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind—to have a genuine loving relationship with him. Most people, I think, would agree that trust is one of the central pillars supporting any loving relationship. With so much at stake—be it emotions, finances, children, future goals, or even eternity—there needs to be implicit trust for love to fully develop.
“Relationships dominated by fear and insecurity,” writes James Dobson, “will never reach their potential, but [relationships] founded on trust and safety will flourish.” Trust is “the bedrock of a secure and growing relationship,” including your relationship with God.
Claudia was a newlywed in her twenties when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and given only a fifty percent chance of survival. Quickly, she was operated on and began cobalt treatments that transformed her almost overnight from a young, beautiful woman to a physical wreck.
Her husband was a chaplain’s assistant in a hospital and had seen many sick and dying patients. He said, “In the movies, couples who have fought for years, in the face of danger suddenly forget their differences and come together. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way in real life.”
“When a couple encounters a crisis,” he said, “it magnifies what’s already present in their relationship. Since Claudia and I trust God and love each other deeply, the crisis drove us closer… The crisis of her illness merely…intensified the feelings already present.”
Claudia and her husband had no idea they would ever face such a catastrophe, but because they were trusted in Jesus, they found that they had already developed the strength to weather the storm.
Some of us will never experience the enormity of the crisis that Claudia and her husband faced. But still, there will be some storms—some heartaches, some decisions, some gut-wrenching moments that have the potential for bringing us into a life-changing crisis. And when the storms of life start billowing up, our resolve is tested. We learn what kind of people we really are. What will we do then? When bill collectors are knocking at the door... when family members are in the hospital... when the doctor gives us the worst possible news... Will we be prepared to face it? Will we have the inner resources that we need? And if not, then how can we prepare ourselves for that day?
It’s easy to become anxious, angry, panicked, or just frightened. But Jesus offers this word of peace, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1 NIV). Even in the midst life’s thunderstorms and hurricanes—even when the circumstances around us seem at their darkest—Jesus teaches us that we can trust in God!
In Mark 4, Jesus is about to teach his followers an important lesson in trusting God. How we face the storm is up to us, but I believe that the experience of twelve fishermen who set out to follow Jesus offers some encouragement. Here is what the Bible says:
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”
So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41 NLT)
Shortly before this, Jesus had approached these twelve men—several of them fishermen—and invited them to follow him. And they had only been following Jesus for a little while, when already he had led them into a storm. The sea which they had set out to cross was the Sea of Galilee, a freshwater lake in northern Palestine. It was heart-shaped, about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. It was 680 feet below sea level and was a place of inspiring beauty. However, with mountains surrounding most of the lake, the fierce downdrafts of cold air from the higher elevations to the warm air of the sea, made it frequently subject to violent storms... which was the case this night.
For these veteran fishermen to be afraid for their lives means that this was no ordinary storm. This was a raging tempest with gale-force winds. The amazing thing is that Jesus was perfectly at peace. In fact, he was asleep! “Our hearts seem so far from his. He is pure; we are greedy. He is peaceful; we are hassled. He is purposeful; we are distracted. He is pleasant; we are cranky. He is spiritual; we are earthbound. The distance between our hearts and his seems so immense.” But the heart of Jesus teaches us to trust in God in the midst of the storm; and then we can find peace. I can see at least three ways that Jesus proved his trustworthiness on the see that day. And three ways that the disciples could have been at peace had they trusted the one that brought them there.