“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:35-41, emphasis added)
The disciples were with Jesus when he drove out impure spirits from those who were demon possessed.
They witnessed him healing those plagued with leprosy.
They followed him after seeing him heal on the sabbath day, something that was unlawful during that day in age.
They saw him performed many miracles in situations that seemed helpless from the outside looking in.
They trusted him enough to lay down their families, careers, & comforts to follow Jesus.
When Jesus walked into a room, they knew that everything would change. They knew Jesus was a game changer, a man who backed up his words with his actions.
They trusted that Jesus was who he said he was.
Yet, they lacked faith.
Life had been great for the disciples thus far. They were living life with Jesus, called out of their monotonous daily lives into one with purpose meaning. They witness miracles performed by their beloved, awaited messiah. They listened to his teachings and learned how to interpret parables. They had fellowship together. Crowds of people were following Jesus, hoping to catch a glimpse of his glory. The disciples were already in. They loved Jesus, & they knew that Jesus loved them. Life was good.
What do we see when the disciples first encounter a trial together on their journey of Jesus?
Lack of faith.
The waves were strong & powerful, like those in a hurricane or tsunami. The dark sky was illuminated by the lighting strikes, & the thunder was earth-shattering.
They disciples had every right to be afraid in a worldly sense. They were trapped on a boat in the middle of a thunderstorm…..I would be freaking out to say the last. I’m guessing their boat wasn’t too similar to the giant cruise ships we have today. So what would happen if the ship wrecked? Would the disciples be able tread water long enough to not drown? Would they be eaten by a creature in the see? What if they were harmed? What if some of them died? They felt isolated, abandoned, helpless, hopeless, and without hope. They knew that they couldn’t save themselves, but that didn’t know what to do in a situation that seemed so impossible to overcome. They forgot about Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I can relate to this story on so many levels. It is so easy for me to praise God on the good days and curse him on the bad. If one little detail or my own plans slip away from me, I immediately doubt the goodness of God. When I feel any bit of pain or suffering, trial or tribulation I say, “God take it away!!! Please!!! If you don’t do what I want you to do, I will be mad! I don’t understand why you haven’t started moving yet, get to it! Why is this happening? Why did they hurt me? What is the purpose in suffering? You have answered so many prayers, I don’t know what you are waiting on for this one. Help me, I am drowning. Now Jesus, please?”
I become frustrated.
The bible doesn’t say that it’s bad to ask God the “why” questions; Jesus actually said those very words when he was dying on the cross. At around 3:00 in the afternoon as he was hanging on that rugged cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In the midst of his suffering Jesus heard silence from God. He was separated from him. He was left to die a painful death & endure the wrath of God against all humanity. He was hanging on to dear life by a threat. His body was broken. His blood was shed. He was at his breaking point.
The difference between Jesus and I in a lot of situations is that Jesus didn’t stay bitter towards God. He transitioned from “my God, why have you forsaken me” to “into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Jesus trusted that God would keep his promise to him. He knew that soon he would be in glory with Jesus. He had faith that God would deliver him in a situation that seemed utterly hopeless. By faith, he believed in the resurrecting power of God.
We know the end of the story.
3 days later, the tomb was found empty. The stone was rolled away. He was resurrected. He came back to life. He is seated at the right hand of the father for eternity, and he lives in you and I.
I have had many seasons where God has answered so many prayers related to my relationship with him, family, friends, future, and healing, among other things.
I have also had many seasons where God seems to be silent in my story. I cry out and I don’t seem to hear an answer, or at least one that I like.
I don’t understand why I am wired to struggle with anxiety.
I don’t understand why I had an eating disorder.
I don’t understand why I haven’t had a good nights sleep in over a year.
I don’t understand why kids bully at school.
I don’t understand why cancer hasn’t been cured.
I don’t understand why ISIS still has power in the Middle East, & the people of North Korea are oppressed by such a brutal dictator.
I don’t understand why I have friends and family who still don’t know Jesus.
I don’t understand why some people are born filthy rich, & others are born into crippling poverty.
I don’t understand why some people are raped, kidnapped, or killed against their own will.
I don’t understand, & I know that I won’t until I am on the other side of heaven.
What I hear and see is silence in this suffering. What hurts the most is knowing and believing that God CAN do what I want him to do. His healing has no limit. His power is unmatched. His sovereignty cannot be undone.
It is only when I look back at the word of God, the scriptures that have been the solid foundation of my faith, that I can move from “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?” to “into your hands I commit my spirit.”
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” –Romans 8:18
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
-2 Corinthians 4:8-10
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:35-39
These passages don’t answer all of my questions, but they do remind me to cling to the very same promises that Jesus did on the cross. When I don’t understand, I still chose Jesus. I still praise him, worship him, & find joy in him. When I cling to his word, I am reminded that God isn’t silent in the biggest storms in my life. I commit myself to have faith, like Jesus, before I know the final outcome. I remind myself that this world is not my home. I place my hope in heaven, the place in which I will experience inexpressible joy & glory with Jesus.