Have you ever had a moment in your life where things just don’t make sense? A time when life seems impossibly difficult, and you have no idea how, or when, or if it will get better.
You receive that phone call, informing you that a loved one died, instantly changing your life.
You know there is absolutely no way you’ll be able to make end meet this month.
You visit the doctor for a routine check-up and find something that is far from routine.
You’re gripped with fear. God seems strangely silent and distant. You don’t know how to get His attention. It’s as if He’s asleep – hibernating from His superhero duties. Fear is a universal language. We all know what if feels like to be massively afraid, and in these moments we wonder, God, do you see this? Do you even care?
We are in a series called “Big Questions” here at Indy Metro. We’ve been exploring what people in scripture asked Jesus when they had just one question. What questions, relevant to our culture, do we have today? Personally, many of my big questions throughout my life have been associated with fear.
I remember sobbing in my college dorm room, doubting whether God could really love me enough to forgive my sins. I didn’t feel very lovable, considering what I’d done. In my mid-twenties, I wondered if God was capable of healing my heart and allowing me to move on after my ex-wife’s affair. Would the pain ever end? And today, I question whether I have what it takes to be a good father. Am I raising my children well?
The truth is, we all have big questions. And we want IMC to be a safe place to ask them.
There’s a big question regarding fear in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark.
It had been a long, draining day for Jesus. A day of teaching about God’s kingdom in the scorching sun. A day of miraculous healing. But the day had finally come to an end. Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night, en route to continue their ministry in another region. This body of water is surrounded by mountains and located below sea level, making it particularly susceptible to sudden and violent storms. In today’s text, we find the disciples and Jesus in the middle of such a storm.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
It must have been a nasty storm to have the disciples, many being fishermen, this worried. They’d spent their entire lives on this sea. They weren’t prone to overreacting.
“Master, Master, we are going to drown.” –Luke 8:24
There was a sense of certainty about their fate. And there was Jesus, sleeping.
Ultimately, the disciples weren’t questioning whether or not they were going to die. In absolute fear, they were preparing to die. “Teacher, don’t you care if we die?” That night, Jesus taught His disciples a lesson they would never forget. Even in the midst of fear, you never have to doubt God. We’ve all had moments when our fear has caused us to doubt God’s goodness – even His existence. We wonder why He lets bad things happen.
If you are not a follower of Jesus, it is totally understandable and logical to question God’s love and goodness in the middle of tough situations. Without Jesus, life seems cruel and somewhat pointless at times. Without believing that Jesus, in His goodness, set us free from our sins, saying that God is good in the middle of suffering doesn’t make sense at all. It’s insulting.
I don’t blame the disciples for being afraid in the middle of that storm. I would have been. It’s remarkable that the same people who were so afraid of dying in that storm – these same ordinary, average people who couldn’t figure out why Jesus was sleeping – were the people Jesus chose to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Is it reasonable to think that going through this storm helped them do it?
Is it possible that the things we fear and the terrible situations we endure are helping prepare us to do something amazing, too? Is it possible that more people may come to know and follow Jesus because of the hardships we have experienced? We have no idea why God governs the world the way He does. We have no idea why God lets some things happen. We only know that God is supremely good. That heaven awaits because of what Jesus did for us.
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus, do you care? Are you good?
Because of the hope we have in the cross, we know that the answer – His answer – is, “Yes.”