And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27
What always strikes me about this gospel event is that the disciples were following Jesus. So in reality, he actually led them into a storm.
The disciples had spent their lives around the sea – they were fishermen — and I’m sure they had friends who had died in storms. They knew the power of the sea and how dangerous these sudden squalls could be.
I worked on a sailboat during my junior year of high school. One time we were sailing around the island of Maui at night. Two of us were on watch when a huge storm came up. It was very scary, with waves washing over the sides of the boat. We had to hook ourselves onto the boat so we wouldn’t be swept overboard. I know the fear these disciples must have experienced.
Jesus leads us into storms
This is one of the big lessons for me from this Gospel. Jesus led them right into this storm. Jesus is Lord of creation, Lord of heaven and earth, Almighty God. He set those disciples up. He led them right into that storm. Why?
I think because storms help us grow.
If we never face any challenges, we won’t develop character and inner strength. It’s in the hard times that we tend to grow in our faith.
Eagles and their young
I’m reminded of a documentary I once saw on eagles. Eagles build their nests in very high places, safe from most predators. The parent eagles make the nest cozy, lined with fur and warm feathers. When the eaglets are born, mom and dad take turns feeding them. The baby birds don’t have to do anything but open their mouths and get fed. If it was up to these little eaglets, they would never choose to leave the nest. Why would they? It’s cozy, safe, they get fed, they don’t have to do anything.
So what do the parent eagles do?
- they start pulling out the soft fur and feathers from under the baby birds
- they stir up the twigs – ouch
- stop feeding them as much
- fly by with tempting food in their mouths, but out of reach of the eaglets
All this to entice and motivate the baby birds to start spreading their wings to try to fly. And finally, if the bird still resists leaving the nest, the mom pushes the baby eaglet out of the nest.
We’re the same way – we get comfortable in life, especially in the spiritual life. We don’t want to progress or change. So God has to stir up the nest. He allows trials in our lives to push us beyond our limits so that we stretch our wings and begin to fly.
As eagles learn to fly, they begin to soar. They see things they never would have seen if they had stayed in the nest. They learn to hunt so they can eat and survive. Then they begin to love the stormy winds because they soar even higher and get awesome rides.
Do you not know or have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31
We learn more about God’s character as we call out to Him and watch what He does through the storms of our lives. We grow in trust. God is faithful. He never leaves us alone. Jesus was in the boat.
Trust in God
When you are in a violent storm, or in a free fall, feeling vulnerable and alone, call out to God. Look with the eyes of faith and you will see Jesus in the boat with you. You will see God circling around underneath you, arms outstretched to catch you.
“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deut. 33: 26-27
No matter what the storm.