I’m sitting listening to the rain, having just discovered my parents’ neighborhood is flooding and my dad can’t get home right now due to highway and road closures. All is well with their house, but oh the damage a storm can cause. It made me think of Jesus on the boat with the disciples and a huge storm comes and the disciples literally believe they will die. Now, some of these guys were fishermen. You have to believe that they’d been in a storm before, that they knew what to do if a boat started to fill with water. They were experienced sailors, and they knew of Jesus’ power. But they were still afraid.
How many times do we face situations in our own life where we feel like we are educated and informed, and maybe we even can testify about the miracles of Jesus, but we are still afraid? There is an element of fear that God created in humanity to help us protect ourselves—that burst of adrenaline you get if you come face to face with a wild animal will probably help you as you race away. Sometimes fear makes sense to us, just as I think it did to Jesus’ disciples on that boat. They took stock: The boat is filling with water, we’re pretty sure we are going to capsize, the water and wind is not letting up anytime soon, the shore is far away. Yep, we are probably gonna die now. I think we can freak out and go wake up Jesus. He’s our only hope.
So then they go to Jesus, and what does he say? “Why are you so afraid?” Clearly God’s logic does not always mesh with ours, huh? I can just imagine the disciples: Why are we afraid, you ask? You, with clear vision and heightened senses…you who knows the power of the storm that is TAKING DOWN THE BOAT in the middle of the water. Seriously? Remember that we followed you onto this boat. If you don’t save us, it’s over. You recognize your feet are drenched in water, right? You realize we cannot stand still because the boat is about to toss us into the sea? If ever there was a time to be afraid, um, wouldn’t now be it? Why are we so afraid? Because fear in this case is perfectly logical! Ah, Jesus. Help us!
To the disciples’ credit, they went to Jesus in their fear. I give them kudos for that. I probably would have stayed curled up in a ball somewhere saying my final prayers. But the disciples took Jesus their fear, they admitted it, and they let him take over. And here is what I reflected on this morning: Jesus isn’t concerned with if our fears make sense to us. Because here is the thing—Jesus knows his own strength and capacity, and he wants us to know it too so that fear doesn’t mess with us. I recognize that my kids have their own reasons to be afraid of thunder that shakes the wall, but I know it is just noise. I want them to trust me to be on top of things, even while the walls shake. When we come to Jesus and admit our fears, he deals with them, sure. But he just shakes his head sometimes. “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you know me at all?” What Jesus knows is that our fears can expose our idols, insecurities, and the things we think have more power than He does.
God’s logic is simple: If you are with Me, you have nothing to be afraid of. Get to know me better. If you walk through the waters, I will be there. I have conquered death and the grave. I have gifted you life everlasting. Look around with your spiritual eyes and see me, not this temporal world. Here, let me give you some more grace, little ones. Grace to act in faith, not fear.
So my advice to anyone dealing with fear today is to seek the grace of God and draw close to Jesus. Are you paralyzed by a fearful storm (insert issue here: how to finance college, what to do with an unfulfilled dream, how to overcome an addiction, wondering if someone likes you, making the best decision regarding your child, job, ministry…etc.)? Take your fears to Jesus and let him blow you away by the power of his love and provision and care. He can blow your fears out of the water. Admitting our fear and taking it to the feet of Jesus is one of the most powerful ways to grow our faith. Take His hand and just watch as He calms the sea in your heart and mind.
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, o you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this that even the winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27