Sunday, December 12, 2004

Jesus' provision in storms

Jesus did not abandon the disciples to the storm, he was there with them, he was providing for them. It may have seemed vastly different to the disciples, there they were rowing and bailing out water for all they were worth, and there was Jesus lying asleep in the boat. He seemed utterly oblivious and totally indifferent to their struggles.

And that’s how it might often seem to us as we go through the storms. But Jesus had provided for his disciples in at least three ways. Here are three comforts to remember when we find ourselves in storms.

Jesus’ Word
In their frantic efforts to stay alive the disciples forgot something very simple. 4 Greek words. 8 in English. If the disciples had remembered it would saved them so much worry:

“Let us go over to the other side.”

What’s the significance of that?

It’s a statement of purpose. He had said they were going to the other side of the lake. But in the storm they had forgotten what he said. They had not held on to his word to give themselves the assurance that they would reach the shore safely. Jesus had provided for them, he provided all they needed to get them through the storm. But they had allowed the voice of the storm to silence the voice of God.

They needed to be reminded of God’s word.

Often in the storms we need to be reminded of God’s word, and in particular God’s promises to us. Often the howling of the wind and the crashing of the waves seem louder to us than words of God. We allow the voice of the storm to drown out the voice of God. But that is precisely what we must not do – we must go to God’s word and read the promises and cling to them.

Jesus statement “Let us go over to the other side” wouldn’t have changed the size of the waves, or the ferocity of the wind, but it would have changed the disciples’ perspective. They would have had the quiet assurance that despite the worst efforts of the storm they were going to get to the far side.

As believers God’s word assures us that despite the worst efforts of the troubles this life throws at us we will make it through.

We have to hang on to God’s word.

Jesus’ Presence
Not only did Jesus provide his word to comfort his disciples, but also there was the comfort of his presence. True, he was asleep, and as he lay sleeping he seemed so ordinary. But he was with them – the one whom they had watched heal the leper, who had cast out the demons, who had healed the countless sick and lame, who had already in his ministry showed his mastery over nature.

He was with them. He had not abandoned them. Sure they may have felt more secure had he been awake, and we may say we would feel more secure if we had Jesus with us in the flesh, but awake or asleep, present in body or in spirit it doesn’t matter. Faith sees beyond the ordinary limitations of sight and touch, and realises that he is present. Faith has to see beyond the ordinary, beyond what is apparent to those who look on.

The presence of Jesus should have given the disciples immense courage and strength. But they looked with physical eyes and saw a man who might as well have been absent. They felt his absence more than his presence. We can do the same – indeed it is only natural, but we need to see the supernatural, and realise the promise of his presence “I will never leave you or forsake you”, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Perhaps its not so much that we don’t see him, but that we have the wrong focus. Like the disciples we are looking at the storm, instead we need to look to Jesus. We have the mighty Lord, the one whose voice broke through the storm and brought a stillness to the crashing sea, we have him with us. With Jesus in the boat with us, what is there to fear?

Jesus’ Peace
Closely allied with Jesus’ presence was Jesus’ peace. He lay sleeping amidst the turmoil of the storm. Yes, he was tired, but as he lay there sleeping he knew what was going on. Before he lay down to sleep he knew the storm was coming. He knew how big the waves would be; he knew how fierce the wind would be. But it didn’t worry him. It wasn’t outside his control. And so he slept. It didn’t catch him unawares.

Nothing that happens to us catches Jesus unawares. Nothing is outside his control. Never will you see a look of panic flash across his brow when he sees the mess you are in – nothing is too hard for him – he is the mighty Lord of Heaven and Earth. Not even the worst that terrorists or governments can do will upset his rule and power. He sits on the throne in control.

That knowledge should give us peace. His peace should be our peace. Young soldiers in a battle look to the veterans to see their faces, if they are relaxed amid the shelling the novices are calmed too. Our commander has a peaceful look on his face. And his peace can be our peace. When Paul talks about a ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’ that’s what he is getting at. When in the storms we should go to our saviour and gaze upon his unworried face, and knowing that he cares for us, we should see in his peace a reason for peace for ourselves.

Seeing Jesus’ power gave the disciples a new understanding of what it meant to be with Jesus, to have Jesus’ presence, to have his word, to have his peace. There really was nothing to fear. The mighty Lord is on my side – whom shall I fear – what can man do to me? If Jesus is in the boat with us we need not fear any storm.

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