Swamped at Night

Mark 4:35-5:1

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?  1They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 

Last night, my eyes popped open sometime around 2 or 3 a.m., and I found myself wide awake, anxious and worried about the virus and its effects. Questions and uncertainty echoed and re-echoed in my mind: How long will it last? Whom will it affect? How many will die? Will I be one? Maurie? Our children or grandchildren? It didn’t take long before I was quite worked up.

Then, these verses came to mind.

In Jesus’ day, bodies of water were considered to be places of danger. People were afraid of them because demons and evil spirits were believed to dwell in the depths. Even worse, on that night, Jesus and his disciples were on the Sea of Galilee, which was famous for sudden, intense storms that swamped boats and drowned their occupants. Jesus’ disciples, most of whom were fishermen, were keenly aware of the threat.

Sure enough, a sudden storm whipped up while they were still at sea, and winds and waves began swamping the boat as Jesus slept peacefully in its stern. The disciples, gripped by fear, cried out, “Don’t you care that we’re dying?”

We are living in a time like that stormy night on the Sea of Galilee. Christians are not exempt from the winds and waves of the times. And, it is quite human for us to be afraid and anxious about it. After all, the coronavirus has changed most of our daily and weekly routines, the news is rife with tales of life-and-death, and an invisible threat is on the loose. We are well outside of our comfort zones. In these uncertain times, it is almost natural to worry about ourselves, our family and friends, our country and our future.

But, as I soon remembered early this morning, now is also the exact time to claim our faith.  Indeed, if we find ourselves frightened enough, it is even a good time to cry out in our fear, “Jesus, don’t you care?!”

So, I did, and I began to pray. Soon, peace came to me and I drifted back to sleep.

Mind you, I don’t claim here that Jesus takes away all fear. That night on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples’ fear did end as Jesus calmed the storm. However, our storm still rages. The winds and waves of the time still threaten us. But my point is that claiming our faith does take the edge off and allows us to face the night and the day. As I found out last night, that is more than good enough. Amen.

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