Jesus Calms the Storm
23. Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26. He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
- He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me. – Psalm 18:19
- Therefore mortals fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit. – Job 37:24
- And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. – Matthew 8:26
God Fell Asleep At The Wheel
24. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
25. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
One of the greatest fears a theist can have is the notion of an aloof, uncaring, or impotent God. We have come so far as to even have faith in the Almighty, so it is a scary proposition in the face of tremendous adversity or injustice when someone plants the idea of , “where is your God now“?
Just like in our Gospel passage today, in which we find the disciples of Jesus are terrified as their boat is seemingly about to be capsized in violent storm and their Savior is literally “asleep at the wheel”. Deep within us the thought terrifies us: God either doesn’t care, or doesn’t know something is happening!
To which some will reply, “God will act if God needs to act.”
This statement is chilling in it’s inevitable conclusion to victims of violence, genocide, or tragedy: God must not think this was worth “acting” over. God doesn’t care about us.
For the victims of 9/11, Katrina, the tsunami in Japan, the drought in Somalia, and other mind-numbing tragedies, it must be inevitable that we begin to question whether God is even there amidst all this strife, heartache, and death.
This very heartache for proof of God in times of trial is exactly what has led some biblical writers, prophets, and teachers to proclaim that God has abandoned God’s people at various times throughout history. Or even worse, that “God is dead.”
The Hand of God, The Hand of Satan
The problem with this entire mindset is we think that the stories of metaphor and symbol contained within the bible are literally true. We expect God to act and save us, just as God did on the stormy sea, just as God did when the Hebrews were rescued from the pursuing Pharaoh, just as God did when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not burn in the furnace of the Babylonians.
God rescues the righteous!… right?
No. God doesn’t always rescue the righteous because we misunderstand how God acts. God acts through us.
We are the only way God acts in this world to intervene in the lives of others. This is the horrible reality of our true power as God’s Children:
- When we care God cares.
- When we love God loves.
- When we kill God kills.
- When we are apathetic God is apathetic.
- When we create God creates.
- When we destroy God destroys.
We can either do tremendous good or tremendous evil everyday.
Do you see? Do you hear?
God never fell asleep at the wheel. God isn’t uncaring or impotent.
That’s exactly what Jesus wanted us to see so badly: if we only could have faith that we are loved and saved, and act AS GOD in this world without fear, then we would realize that God is always with us.
- When we are scared God is with us.
- When we are alone God is with us.
- When we are persecuted God is with us.
- When we are facing death God is with us.
Where is God?
If we are the hands of God, and of God is always with us, then when we kill each other, we are crucifying Christ all over again.
To drive this point home, I turn to a stunning example of this very experience, starkly illustrated by Elie Wiesel in his memoir, “Night” about his time spent as a youth suffering in Nazi concentration camps.
One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us, machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains— and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel.
The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him.
This time the Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.
The three victims mounted together onto the chairs.
The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses.
“Long live liberty!” cried the two adults.
But the child was silent.
“Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked.
At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over.
Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.
“Bare your heads!” yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping.
“Cover your heads!”
Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…
For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was red, his eyes were not yet glazed.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“Where is God now?”
And I heard a voice within me answer him:
“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows…”(emphasis added)
“Wake up! We are perishing!”
Wake up, my brothers and sisters. Awaken to your mighty power to act as good or evil in this world, and God will awaken with us.
Wake up and save us; we are perishing!
The storm is wild and the seas are high. Can you finally see you have the power to save us?