Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. [Psalm 107:26-18 (NLT)]
Mark, Matthew, and Luke all tell the story of Jesus calming the sea. He and the disciples had started to sail the five miles across the Sea of Galilee when a fierce storm struck. Tired from a day of preaching, Jesus remained asleep in the stern while the storm raged. As the waves broke and the boat began to fill with water, the disciples were sure they would perish. After they woke Jesus by shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” He rebuked the wind and the storm ended.
Since we’ve probably heard more than one sermon on this story, we know that the presence of Jesus in our boat is no guarantee of a storm-free life and that, even when it seems like God is asleep on the job, He has the situation firmly in hand. But think about the storm and imagine the sounds that night: the howling of the wind, waves smacking the sides of the boat, rain pounding down, sails furiously flapping, the crack of thunder, and men shouting to one another as they tried to lower the sails, bail and row. With all that noise and the boat pitching and heaving as the waves tossed it about, even the soundest sleeper would have difficulty sleeping. Jesus, however, was undisturbed by the commotion and remained asleep. Although the storm couldn’t wake Him, the disciples’ call to Him did! Whether we are shouting over the sound of thunder or whispering to Him beside a loved one’s hospital bed, this story tells us God will hear our call.
My final take-away from this story is not to underestimate the power of Jesus, something I think the disciples did. When they spotted the first black clouds on the horizon, they didn’t wake Jesus and ask Him to send the storm elsewhere. They tried to sail through the storm on their own power. It wasn’t until they feared they were at death’s door that they finally called to Him. Did the men wake Him because they thought He could still the storm or because they needed His help bailing and rowing? In spite of the miracles they’d seen Jesus do, their shock and terror when He stopped the wind and calmed the sea instantly (something that normally took 24 to 48 hours after a storm’s end) makes me think they expected a helping hand rather than a supernatural solution.
I wonder how often we, like the disciples, underestimate God’s power to handle the crises in our lives and wait until we’re desperate before calling to Him. While we may not get a miracle, His power is enough to get us through any storm. Even if He doesn’t calm the waters, He will bring us safely into harbor.