What do you do when God is sleeping?
Today’s blog entry focuses on Mark 4:35-41, about how Jesus calmed the storm:
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.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
You wouldn’t blame the disciples for being upset with Jesus.
The disciples certainly weren’t expecting a storm. After all it was Jesus’s idea for them to get on a boat and cross over to the other side of the lake. It was what Jesus commanded and you would understand that the disciples expected a smooth, blessed ride.
They certainly didn’t expect to be hit by a turbulent storm, with winds rocking them violently and water pouring into the boat, threatening to capsize the vessel at any moment.
What made matters worse was the person they expected to save them, didn’t seem to care. Jesus seemed blissfully unaware of the dangerous crisis as he slept through the storm. They felt Jesus’ presence, but it was a sleeping presence.
Have you ever experienced God’s sleeping presence? You are in trouble, but no solution is in sight. Nothing seems to be improving for the better and you can’t see a way out. You’re in a jam and no help is available. You know God is with you but He doesn’t seem to be doing anything. When this happens, it’s called experiencing God’s sleeping presence.
Your dire circumstances get so bad you can’t stop worrying, and things get so bad, you start to panic.
Fear turns to anger and you lash out at God – “What’s wrong with you God? Can’t you see I’m in trouble? I might die! Why don’t you help me? Why aren’t you doing anything?”
After the disciples wake Jesus, he gets up calms the storm. Maybe God has done the same for you, rescuing you from your trouble after you pour out your frightened and angry prayers at him.
Jesus’ reaction is to rebuke his disciples for their lack of faith.
I don’t know about you, but this story always speaks deeply to me. In the past, it used to be that whenever things started going wrong, and when I pray about it and things don’t get better immediately, I start to worry.
Through reading this passage I learn that God is always with us, His presence is always there protecting us even when we don’t see it. This is known as God’s sleeping presence. We can have peace knowing that even when we are hit by storms, by turbulent troubles, by worrisome situations, we don’t have to worry because God’s presence guards us and stops bad things from happening to us. Now, when I’m in trouble, I’m learning not to worry and developing that calm stillness that God will see me through the turmoil if I just don’t panic and trust in him.
Two other Scripture verses also tell us to have faith in God through the storms in life – “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15) and “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37)
When we are sure that God is protecting us even when He seems to be sleeping, we can relax when the storms in life hit us and enjoy the ride. I always remember the following children’s song when I meditate on this truth:
With Jesus in the boat,
we can smile at the storm,
smile at the storm,
smile at the storm.
With Jesus in the boat,
we can smile at the storm
as we go sailing home.