Thu Apr 18 – Fear and Awe

Mark 4:39-40(CEB)

39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40 Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”


Jesus asked, “Why are you frightened?” Well, I can think of two reasons. One – the disciples were in the middle of a crazy storm and then two – Jesus told the storm to stop, and it did! When I think of this story, I think either of these scenarios would cause a person to be afraid. Yes, a person would certainly be happy if the storm stopped but the fact that it stopped immediately would be very overwhelming and cause emotions that I am not sure are immediately calming. Of course, the disciples had seen miracles of different varieties, but this happened directly to them! The scripture tells us they were in awe, but still had questions about who Jesus really was.

            Ten years ago, I went on a mission trip to the Holy Land. We did work at a school in the northern part of the country not far from the Sea of Galilee. We also did work in the West Bank. We worked in the morning and toured in the afternoon. One day we took a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee. It is much bigger than I had thought it was. Because of the topography of the land around it, when storms come in or even just when it is windy, the waves can really kick up, and it can be a dangerous place to be. We were in a boat that was fashioned after the boats of the time. It seemed pretty sturdy, but it was not very big and was not very deep. I loved that experience, and I love water, but I am afraid of water. I do not like to get tossed in a wave or even go under. My immediate family went on a rafting trip in Yosemite years ago. I was terrified. It turned out to be fun, but I was incredibly anxious and afraid – I prayed a lot! I could not have imagined our guide sleeping in a corner of our raft on that trip, but yet, Jesus was sleeping when the storm blew up and the boat was tossing and turning and taking on water. How did the disciples feel about that? They were scared, but they did wake him up to ask for help – well, kind of. Jesus was tired from his day of preaching, but could this have just been one of those times when he wanted to prove to the disciples who he was and how they needed to have faith? To show them that he would take care of them, to help them remember when times got really tough that he and God could be depended on to be there and to help?

            Last week we talked about not necessarily getting what we want or think we should have. This week the question is: what happens when we get something that we asked for, but are surprised or even a bit frightened by the fact that we get it? Do we remember to be thankful or like the disciples do we question who Jesus and God are and their power to help us? Or do we question our own lack of faith or pat ourselves on the back for having such faith? I think those answers are dependent on the situation and what we expect to happen. Faith can surprise us sometimes. We should always be open to what God might have in store for us – I was terrified, but I got in the raft and was safe that day. I don’t think I relaxed until we arrived back on shore, but I was thankful and was able to enjoy myself a bit and to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. Had I not gone, I guess I would have just had to stay at the dock or in our car and wait for everyone to get back. I’m sure that I would also have been terrified sitting there just imagining what was happening on the water. My faith would have been challenged in a different way, but challenged, nonetheless.

For Pondering & Prayer

Thoughts: When was the last time you were surprised in a good way by an outcome that you prayed for but had a hard time seeing a good ending in your mind’s eye? What was your reaction to that?

Prayer: God of surprises, give us faith to know that you are there with us. Help us to acknowledge your faithfulness in all situations and to always be thankful. Amen.

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