“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
These words of Jesus recorded in Mark 4:40 always perplexed me. What do you mean, “Why am I so fearful?!” We’re in the middle of a deadly storm! (Mark 4:37) Don’t you feel the ship being tossed violently about? Don’t you see that the ship is filling with water and that we’re about to sink?! What does faith have to do with anything? This is not a matter of attitude or perspective. This threat is not spiritual. The danger is real! So, what do you mean, “Why am I so fearful?!”
The questions seemed absurd. That is, until I had to face a storm of my own.
Like the storm in Mark 4:37, mine came upon me suddenly, unexpectedly and violently. In one great swell the waters crashed on my life, threatening to tear everything apart. After barely surviving its impact, I was then hammered with wave, after wave, after wave. I lived in constant fear of the blow that would finally end it all. This went on for years.
But, Jesus was in the boat the whole time.
I was so focused on the storm, I lost sight of who He was. And, I didn’t realize the effect that Jesus was having just being there. While He seemed to me to be “sleeping”, He was the reason I had not perished. It was His presence, and not all the things I was clinging to, that was preserving me and providing for my need. What I see now, that I didn’t see then, is that He had angels encamped all around us -real people, who ministered to my real needs. As I reflect on those years, I clearly see people God sent that provided precisely what I needed both spiritually and materially in their due seasons. Why? Not because of what I had done, but because of who I was with. I was with Jesus –Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God who was sent according to the love of God for this very purpose: that those who believe in Him would not perish but have life everlasting.
That last part –Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.
This view of Jesus as God incarnate is what I believed or at least conceptually understood at some point, but lost sight of. And this is why, I believe, that Jesus asks, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Because, if I am with Christ in the boat, do I really believe the Christ will perish? Do I really believe that He will fail to do what He came to do? Do I really believe that any promise made concerning Him will go unfulfilled? Oh Father, grant me the faith of Abraham who believed so steadfastly on your Promise because he believed God to be so faithful that He’d never go back on His word and believed God to be so powerful, that He could raise the son of Promise from the dead. (Genesis 22:1-14; Hebrews 11:19) Lord, help me to see You and to allow the reality of who You are to loom larger than the reality that I’m wrestling with!
When I believe Jesus, my hope and expectation is in the furtherance of His purposes: reconciling creation to Himself and the full coming of His kingdom. This, by faith, becomes the desire of my heart that I can be fully assured that God will give to me. (Psalm 37:4) Furthermore, if He can command even the storm, I can have confidence that nothing concerning me is beyond His control. If I live, He is in control. He has work for me and as I walk in it, no storm, no circumstance, no power in Hell -nothing can prevent it. If I die, He is in control. I can depart knowing that He is faithful to finish the work He began and that nothing that I have committed to Him will be in vain. So, whether in life or death, He is in control, His purposes will prevail, He will be glorified and my desire in Him will not fail.
As I look back from the other side of the storm, I see that the whole time I spent being anxious, frantically flailing about, I could have been resting confidently with Jesus.