For years I’ve taught on Matthew 8:23-27—the passage where Jesus falls asleep on a boat in the middle of the storm only to wake up and calm that bad boy down. I thought that I knew everything there was to know about this passage, and yet God’s word comes alive once again to bring about another thought to play with. As youth workers, there are awesome times of hanging with teenagers, mission trips, retreats, leading students to Christ, and so on. But there are also a lot of tough times (i.e. “storms”) that we face that can be overwhelming and discouraging. Here are some principles that stood out and reminded me of the fact that Jesus is God of the storm.
1). Jesus will lead you into a storm. I wish I could accept what so many Christians believe about Following Jesus. So many accept the idea that once that magical prayer is prayed, life then becomes perfect—never again to encounter problems along the way. But this passage tells us something: Jesus got into a boat that he knew would be attacked, thrashed and swamped by a storm that he knew would be coming. This wasn’t a chance occurrence but a deliberate “teaching opportunity” to remind his disciples what they’d signed up for: an invitation to a dangerous life that would leave them speechless and breathless at points, and cause them to scream out, “What a ride!” at the conclusion of their journey.
2). You have a choice. When the storm comes, we have a choice. We can act “reasonably” and “naturally,” only to prove to God that we believe the storm that we’re in to be bigger than he is. The disciples responded this way: “And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord, we are perishing’ ” (ESV). Were they really “perishing”? Were they really at that very moment dying? Probably not. But they thought that they were going to die. So to look at their response seems understandable and completely natural for people in their situation. Personally, I would be freaking out if I was in a boat that was filling up with water.
But we’re not called to live natural lives. We’re called to a supernatural and life-rocking life with Jesus, completely surrendered to him and in complete and total trust of him in everything that we face. So what does supernatural look like in a storm? It looks like taking a nap. Jesus was asleep on a cushion during the whole storm. He wasn’t concerned with the storm. He was intimidated or nervous. He wasn’t worried. He was tired. He was calm. He was tired and calm enough at that moment that he took a nap.
You see, we can rest in God’s sovereignty—that no matter what we’re facing, Jesus is in total control of what’s going on. As hard as things are that come up, we need to take the advice and follow the example of Christ in the times of the storms. Let’s take a nap. Let’s trust Jesus. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with asking him to stomp that storm, but we also must ask if he is using that storm to prepare us for something that we never thought he would include us in. Just do me a favor: Remind me of what I just wrote when I face the next storm on my horizon. Thanks.