When he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith” (Matthew 8:23–26, esv)?
Are you the kind of person who grew up thinking you’d always be able to come up with a plan to solve any concern that crossed your path? Maybe you even believed that once you’d gotten capable enough at fixing problems, the automatic pilot of the good life would take over and you’d reach a day when nothing could faze you—you’d be able to sort everything out, box it up by category, and put it neatly on the shelf.
Seems like nice thinking, right?
But as we grow up, we start to figure out that day is never coming.
We can avoid storms and upheavals in our lives about as effectively as we can divert weather patterns over our city. Despite occasional blue skies, dark clouds inevitably gather on the horizon, reminding us of our daily need for trusting God. You cannot set your hope on the illusion that you will finally reach a point where life will be nothing but smooth sailing from here on out. Just about the time you think, “I don’t really need to pray that much this week”—Wham! Reality hits. The fact is, this side of heaven, there will never be a day you won’t need to trust the God who loves you.
The professional fishermen in the boat with Jesus that afternoon on the Sea of Galilee had seen a lot of bad weather in their day. They felt comfortable on the water, pretty sure of themselves, based on a lot of past experience. But there was something about this “great storm” that blew in—this mega, seismic storm—that sent them rushing to Jesus, imploring, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”
Their terror, as well as Jesus’ response to their desperation, should send us rushing to understand and apply what we’re seeing here.
Jesus orders the circumstances of our lives so that we will come to the place—and keep coming to the place—of crying out, “Lord, save me.” He knows we will never stop needing opportunities to grow, stretch, develop, and strengthen our faith in Him . . . because, as I’m often reminded, nothing ever has nothing to do with faith. The issue is always: Will I trust God in this? Do I believe He will care for me? Do I believe He has my best interest at heart?
Jesus knew the storm was coming. He could’ve stopped it before it started. He could’ve waited for clearer sailing before encouraging His disciples to come out on the water with Him. He knew, when He lay down to sleep in perfect calm and confidence, that He was preparing them for a teachable moment.
“O you of little faith.”
I hear Him, in questioning their faith, not rebuking them so much as tenderly saying to them something more like, “You don’t get it yet, do you?” He wasn’t mad at them; he was sad that they still weren’t convinced He could take care of them. He wanted them to realize—just as He wants us to realize—the absolute security of trusting Him.
Your future will always hold waves, and those waves will ravage you until you embrace the fact that God allows these storms for your good. He won’t let you drown. But He wants you to want Him to save you.
He wants the storm to remind you to trust Him.
Lord, I understand that storms are signs of Your faithfulness to me. They keep me crying out to You, they prove to me Your power, and they teach me Your lovingkindness. Though I wince at the struggle, I know You’re doing what’s best for me, and I love You for it. Forgive the arrogance I reveal so often when life is calm, thinking I’ve figured out all that I need to know, that I’ve moved beyond needing You as I once did. Lord, I am full of need. Yet by Your mercy, all I need is found in You. Grow in me the faith to live in light of this confidence every day, whether the sea is serene or stormy. I trust You, Lord. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.