Summary: The two Christian ingredients for combating worry are having Jesus in your heart and having faith in Jesus.
It is one of the Bible’s prescriptions for worry--this incident on the sea I just read to you. How often we are told not to worry, but worry we do about our health, job, family, some personal problem, some world crisis, whatever. It’s one thing to read: Let not your hearts be troubled (John 14) or Do not be anxious about your life (Mt.6) but it only takes a phone call with bad news or an unexpected dismissal from work or the wrong results on a lab test to make us mock or think ridiculous Paul’s words to the Christians in Phillipi:
Have no anxiety about anything (Phil. 4:3).
To remind us just how severe a problem worry can be, it was not that long ago we read or heard in the news of the priest, Rev. Donald Rooney, who took his own life worried about the repercussions of past sins. If the clergy have trouble not worrying, it should be a reminder to me this morning that even talking about a solution to worry can be more like “whistling in the wind”.
What is it about this story on the sea that should help us with our worrying?.
It’s a rather simple episode told in only four verses. Jesus was asleep on a boat with His disciples. A storm came up and the boat was being swamped— a situation that would cause most of us a lot of anxiety and worry as it did for the disciples who woke up Jesus saying: Save us, Lord, we are perishing (and they weren’t kidding). And Jesus said to the disciples:
“Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?”
That’s like the preacher saying: “What are you worried about?”
Then Jesus got up, rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm.
If we were to look at this incident as an analogy for you and me today, we could compare our life to a boat—you and I are a boat on the sea of life, and as we well know many storms come up that cause us to worry and feel anxious.
Some of those storms, some of our problems, can really start to swamp us- we get discouraged or depressed, sometimes to the point of wanting to take our own life. In this story, Jesus is on the boat and to follow the analogy, Jesus is on your boat and my boat, in your heart and my heart, and if I can call upon Him and tell Him what’s happening He can rebuke the violent wind and sea and you and I will be safe.
We should not forget that because Jesus was on the boat the disciples were not excluded from having problems—the storm still came.
What made all the difference were two factors:
Jesus and having faith. It was not only that Jesus was on the boat but that the disciples
thought He could do something about the terrible storm.
The question often asked by the evangelist:
“do you have Jesus in your heart or have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” may not be as crucial as: is He asleep or active in your life?
That was the key here-Jesus became active on this boat; He calmed the troubled waters.
Maybe the reason we worry too much is because Jesus is asleep in me instead of active.
We don’t like to think it or say: I prayed to Jesus; I asked Him to heal me or to help me but nothing happened. It was like He didn’t answer my need.
You could make that argument after reading about another storm that came up. This time the disciples were in the Garden of Gethsamane with Jesus and out of the night came men carrying clubs and swords. The disciple Peter was ready to fight; he drew his sword, but Jesus said “No” and before you knew it; the bad guys had taken Jesus away
and the disciples were scattered like sheep without a shepherd. Now the disciples really had something to worry about- this time Jesus did not calm the storm but got swept away by its mighty force, imprisoned, beaten and mocked.
That’s why I mentioned there were two significant factors in this story on the sea: the one of course is Jesus, who was on the boat and the second is faith, why are you afraid, O men of little faith.
Jesus wanted these men to have faith. He used almost the very same words another time on the sea when He came to His disciples at night; they saw Jesus coming out of the darkness and thought it was some kind of ghost or apparition walking on the water until He spoke to them- talk about being worried again. Peter said: “Lord, if it is you tell me to come”; so Jesus said: “Come” and the next thing you read is Peter is walking on the water toward Jesus until Peter felt the wind and saw the rough sea and began to sink. Jesus saved Peter but you remember His words to Peter as He lifted him into the boat: