A few years ago, Steve and I hosted a cruise for some friends of ours in the radio industry. I had never been on a cruise ship before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Our room was near the bottom of the ship because those rooms were a bit cheaper. At the end of our bed was a little round window that looked out on the water.
One night, the ocean grew rough, and choppy and I could see water splashing up over our window. My stomach felt queasy, my head felt dizzy, and I swear I heard the music from the movie Titanic in my ears. I knew I was being dramatic, but I wondered if the waves were going to overwhelm the ship. I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt on the Sea of Galilee?
In the evening after a busy day of ministry, Jesus and His disciples got in a boat to cross to the other side of the Sea. Jesus was exhausted, so He laid down and fell asleep in the boat. Who could blame Him? He had ministered all day long, teaching crowds of people. While Jesus was sleeping, a furious squall came up over the boat, and the waves crashed over the boat so that it was nearly swamped (Mark 4:37).
Okay, stop. Imagine! The waves were coming up over the ship. While traveling in Israel, I learned that the waves in the Sea of Galilee, depending on which direction the wind came from, could be at least six to eight feet high. This was not a cruise ship! This was likely a small fishing boat.
The disciples panicked! The situation looked overwhelming. I would have panicked too! In the moment of their panic, they wonder – why in the world is Jesus sleeping? He’s not taking this situation seriously enough! Doesn’t He care that we’re all going to drown? Frantic, they wake Jesus with accusation on their lips: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38). What a rude awakening for Jesus! Jesus gets up. He knows they are all panicked. He speaks directly to the wind and the waves: “Quiet! Be still” (Mark 4:39).
I love this story so much! There are so many little and large lessons in it for you and me.
When the waves of your life feel overwhelming…
Jesus is ever patient with our panic. In the story in Mark, Jesus asks the disciples, “Where is your faith? Do you still have so little faith?” (Mark 4:40). He doesn’t ask them this because He’s rebuking them for feeling afraid. He understands why they’re afraid. He asks them because they question whether or not He cares! When the waves come crashing and life feels chaotic, remind yourself that God is good! He does care. You’ll need to access your faith. It might not look like He cares, but that’s where your faith comes in.
Jesus’ words are for you and me today: “Quiet! Be Still!” These words remind me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God!” Sometimes the waves of my thinking overwhelm me. I see all the things; deadlines, demands, and details. Worry and anxiety can easily overwhelm. In those moments, I remind myself that Jesus’ words still stand today: “Quiet! Be still!” Only when I quiet my mind can I dwell on the truth that He is God. He’s got it… all of it. Every detail of my life and the lives of those I love. He will be faithful today, just like yesterday!
Jesus is in the boat with you. When we’re in a panic, it’s easy to forget that Jesus is in the situation with us. He’s in your parenting journey with you. He’s in the financial crisis with you. He’s in the challenges of your particular struggle with you! In the moments when chaos is threatening to overwhelm you, remind yourself that Jesus is in the boat with you! He will provide what you need. You might not be able to see or feel His presence at this moment, but that’s where faith comes in. Rehearse His promises in your head. Promises like: “I will ever leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), and, “I have chosen you and have not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9).
Take a few minutes and write some of your favorite promises on index cards and keep them where they are easily accessible. When panic threatens, pull them out and remind yourself of who Jesus is and what He has promised.
Friends, some of you are overwhelmed right now. I’ve heard from you and I know the circumstances of your life may feel dark right now. You are not alone. He is with you. He is ever patient with our panic. He is still the Master of the wind and waves. His words still ring true today. Quiet your heart in His presence and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you. It’s a prayer He loves to answer.