By Vicki Spicher
October 24, 2005
A friend once asked me if, and why, God was reproving the disciples for waking Him in the boat when a storm came up (Matthew 8: 23-27; Mark 4:36-41; Luke 8:22-25). We have all heard the messages that it was for their lack of faith, since He had told them they were going to the other side. Her question was [since they had not been yet given power to heal, etc., and so God could not have expected them to try to calm the storm themselves (Matthew 10:1; Mark 6: 7; Luke 9:1)], what were they to do? In her thinking, when they called out to Him it showed confidence that HE was God and that they knew He had power to do something when they were helpless. Her concern was, if God was rebuking them, does that mean that He also feels rebuke toward us when we call out to Him in trouble? What should the disciples have done?
It was a good question and it caused me to go back and reread the familiar account. I do not believe Jesus spoke in rebuke, but more in sadness; I also believe we have a second “ship in the storm” story that God has given us to show us how He desires us to respond. (Note that Jesus, in all three gospel accounts, “rebuked” the storm, not the disciples.)
In Acts 27, Paul, with others, is on a boat to Rome to stand before the Caesar. As in the gospel account, God gives assurance that they would reach their destination. In the storm that seemed to mean sure death for all, Paul does not look for calm seas; rather than calling out to God to end the storm, Paul speaks in assurance that they would all reach safety. All the men were saved, although the ship was destroyed, they spent much time on an island, and had many other trials before they reached their destination (Acts 28:1-15).
As immature Christians, we often cry out to God to calm the storms – or better yet to take them away completely. Tribulations and trials produce a Christ-likeness in us (Romans 5:3-5). God may choose to calm the storms, to heal the sick, etc., but I believe He often desires us to go through the storm, often with harsh consequences, and in our response, testify of Him to others.
If, through every trial that comes, we get an easy escape out, those around us might very well respond as Satan did when Job was held up - “of course, he serves you, God, look at how easy he has it” (Miss Vicki’s paraphrase of Job 1:9-11). But will we praise Him and serve Him when the troubles, the illness, the storms hit us?
I believe Jesus was not rebuking the disciples, but was rather speaking in sorrow that they could not rest knowing that even if the boat were to sink in the storm, Jesus was with them through it. How precious that we have been given a second account showing the faith of Paul, who, even as the ship was sinking, voiced confidence in His God, and by doing so, won many.
Are you in the midst of a storm today? Perhaps rather than asking God to remove it, you can show others Christ by responding with confidence in Him - regardless of the outcome.