Article: WHEN YOU ARE SO AFRAID; HAVE FAITH! | Jacob Varghese

We all know that we are living in a very challenging time and life has become hard to predict. We do not know what is going to happen in the next months, next week or even the next moment. Fear is a powerful emotion. We all have dealt with it. Fear of loss, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of death, fear of a hostile world and so many fears. Fear can either motivate us to act or it can paralyze us. But in the midst of this we continually trust God to see His goodness and experience His favor and also to experience His protection in our lives. This meditation is based on the gospel of Mark chapter 4 verses 35 to 41. In this selected text we see Jesus calms the storm. It is a very familiar portion for all of us. Let me provide some context to this passage. Jesus has just finished a long day of teaching by the Sea of Galilee. He has been teaching about the Kingdom of God in parables, illustrative stories woven through with imagery from everyday Jewish farm life. These parables speak of how the Kingdom of God comes like a farmer sowing seed, or like a mustard seed planted small but over the time growing into a large plant that offers shade even to the birds of the air. After a long day of such teaching, Jesus had grown tired. Who among us wouldn’t have? And so, when the evening came, Jesus said to his disciples “Let us go over to the other side”, Jesus and his disciples begin to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was so tired that he went to sleep. In the middle of the sea there arose a huge storm. A great and violent windstorm the type of which the Sea of Galilee was well known for. They never expected this. Everything was going well; everything was going smooth but suddenly they experienced this storm. Mark tells us that boat was quickly beginning to be swamped by the waves of the storm. The disciples were confronted by fear, but not the ordinary fear of everyday life. This would have been sheer terror. It is the kind of fear that happens when you are confronted with something that is far larger, far stronger than you have the power to control. I am sure they did not want to disturb Jesus and they tried to control the boat but nothing happened. Nothing they could do to control the boat in the midst of the storm. And yet Jesus is fast asleep on a cushion in the stern of the boat. Not only is Jesus fearless of the chaos raging around him and his disciples; he is sleeping! In the face of the terror of a terrible storm, Jesus sleeps soundly. So, they had to go to Jesus and wake Him up.

In this meditation we are going to focus on the two questions raised by the disciples and the two questions by our Lord Jesus Christ. We see in verses 38 & 41 the two questions were from the disciples and in verse 40 we find two questions by Jesus. What are those questions? Disciples go and tell Jesus, “teacher don’t you care if we drown”? And in verse 41 they all were amazed and they said who is this? Don’t you care and who is this? But in verse 40 Jesus is asking the disciples two questions. Why are you so afraid? And where is your faith or Do you still have no faith? There are things in life we want to take control and we are in control of. For example, if you want to change your travel reservations from one date to another date, you can do that because you are in control or if you want to leave your present job and look for another you can change, as you are in control. Or if you want to change your schedules, you are in control, you can change it. But there are some things which are hard to control. For example, if you tried to control or change certain things in your children, the more you try to control or change they become worse, isn’t it? I hear often or in fact keep hearing from people that “they have given up, now it is becoming worse.” And that is exactly happened to the disciples. They tried to take control of the boat in the storm and it was becoming all the more and they gave up. They not only give up; they go through a very traumatic and traumatizing experience. There was fear, there was confusion, there was disappointment and they did not know what is going to happen. But I am glad that they went to Jesus. They did not jump out of the boat. That is the beauty of it. They went to Jesus. Why did they go to Jesus? Of course, to say that we are going to die, we are going to perish. To ask him what any one of us would have asked: “Do you not care that we are perishing?” It is a reasonable question. There we could include Jesus as well. In other words, they are saying to Jesus including you, we are going to perish. And then we know the story goes into a different direction. What was Jesus doing? How did Jesus demonstrate that He cares for them? Jesus provides an answer to them, but not in the way you would expect. Rather than assuring them that everything will be alright, Jesus instead turns toward the wind and the waves, toward the darkness and chaos that threatens to engulf them all. Jesus rebukes the wind. Now this alone is interesting. Jesus speaks a word of rebuke to the wind. Jesus says specifically to the storm: “Peace! Be still!” Yes, Jesus got up and He calmed the storm and then He looks at His disciples and tells them why are you afraid? And where is your faith? Even after all the disciples had seen what Jesus did up to this point, even after all the parables he had taught, even after all the innocent people he had freed from demonic oppression, the disciples still did not know Who stood in their midst. Indeed, they are so amazed at what they have just witnessed that all they can do is ask “Who then is this?” Who indeed is this Man who commands the very wind and sea to be silent?

As we continue our life journey, it is going to be anxious and fearful as we hear all sorts of news. We tend to think what will happen to me? Am I in control of the situation? And we need to understand this particular passage, disciples also went through the stormy experience and they go to Jesus and they knew in Jesus there is going to be an answer. And what did Jesus say? He said to them, don’t be afraid and He also said to them have faith. Life is all about having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You know why? In Christ we find our bottomless hope. In the midst of the hopeless situation, we find in Christ an unlimited and endless hope. Jesus is asking us the same probing question he asked to his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” What scares you? I mean—what really, really frightens you? Can you remember a time in your life—some moment—when you were more frightened than you have ever been at any other time in your life? What was it that caused that fear? How did you feel? More importantly; how did you respond? Fear is an issue in today’s Gospel lesson from Mark, but it’s not the most important issue. Mark says that waves were beating into the boat and the boat was in danger of being swamped. And yet, somehow Jesus manages to sleep through this pounding storm. Here are Jesus’ disciples; they are doing exactly what Jesus has asked them to do, and now they are in deadly danger. And what is Jesus doing? He is SLEEPING! Doesn’t he care?! Just when they need him the most, Jesus is basically not around! You can hear the accusations in their voices: “Teacher, don’t you care that we are dying?” You have heard similar accusation in the voices of others. How many times have you heard someone say, “I have always been a good Christian—why is God letting this happen to me? Where is God when I need God?” Or maybe you have heard someone say, “How can God let such terrible things happen in the world?” Did they go to Jesus, wake him, and say, “Teacher we need some help here; we know you can calm this storm; we know you can save us.” No! What they did was accuse Jesus of not caring. Just the same as we accuse God of not caring when we ask, “Why is God letting this happening to me?” or “Why does God let such awful disasters—or wars—or famines— or pandemic? Why does God let them occur? Doesn’t God care?” “They were greatly afraid, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’. Is it any wonder that Jesus is frustrated with the disciples? After all that, they still say to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Jesus will never observe our suffering from far-away because Jesus is never far at a distance, He is always near. He somehow participates in human suffering. He is with us and He is for us. That is the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ. Somehow, He was trying to tell the disciples that you are a part of the divine plan. You are here not by accident in this world. Yes, we are a part of the divine plan of God and therefore we need to understand that God does not leave us alone in our pain. Don’t think that He just leaves us alone. He feels every bit of our pain and suffering with us and when we surrender to Him do you know what He says? He stretches His hand and says I love you, and he says give me your pain and He says I can handle it. Did he not handle the situation? Yes, he did. But it does not stop there, He wants us to do and unite ourselves to do to others because with Christ we can go and tell I love you to others around us who are suffering. We can tell them, you give me your pain, and with Christ I will handle it. Now when we look at Jesus, he also asks us to model to go out, reach out to others and ask their pain and tell them that Jesus cares for them too. So, let us remember that in Christ we find our endless hope in any situation. Why? He said, I will never leave you, I will never forsake you for I am with you and he also says I see the storm, I see the waves, I see the winds and I also see you and He looks at the wind and calms them. He looks at them and says “don’t be afraid” and “where is your faith?” This is a very important question where is our faith? Let us put trust in the Lord Jesus who gave His life for us and also gives hope in the midst of all confusion and trials. Faith over fear is the most important thing we need in our Christian life. Faith over fear doesn’t mean that you don’t feel afraid, it means that you will not let your fear consume you or your actions. Faith over fear gives us the confidence that we need to go through the situation of fear. Let your faith be bigger than your fear or fearing situations.




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