The Storms of Life

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:35-38)

“This picture goes to our hearts, because everyone who’s ever tried to live a life of faith in this world has felt like this sometimes.  Everything is going wrong, you’re sinking, and God seems to be asleep, absent, or unaware.  If you loved us, the disciples were saying, you wouldn’t let us go through this.  If you loved us, we wouldn’t be about to sink.  If you loved us, you would not be letting us endure deadly peril” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, p. 53).

Sound familiar?  “If you loved me, you…” Sometimes we use the “if you loved me” phrase when we have a “want” (though it is rarely a “need”) that we believe would make life so much better.  These “if you loved me” statements tend to come across like a child asking a parent to spoil them based upon their immediate desires and not long-term thinking.  Other times, the “if you loved me” statements occur during times of turmoil.  There is a thought that if God truly loved me then life would be easy.  Life would be “fair”.  Christians may even say, “Aren’t I your child?  If you really loved me I would not have to go through this.”  Because Jesus didn’t face any troubles or trials when he was on earth…oh, wait…except dealing with sinners, being tempted by the Devil, and being tortured and murdered unjustly.

“And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”” (Mark 4:38b-41)

Jesus calmed the storm, and then he responded to them.  Did he say, I can understand how you felt?  No, he asked, “Why are you so afraid?”  Can you imagine what the disciples must have been thinking?  What do you mean, why were we afraid?  We were afraid we were going to drown.  We were afraid you didn’t love us, because if you loved us, you wouldn’t let these things happen.

But Jesus’s question to them has behind it this thought: Your premise is wrong.  You should have known better.  I do allow people I love to go through storms.  You had no reason to panic… His power is unbounded, but so are his wisdom and his love.  Nature is indifferent to you, but Jesus is filled with untamable love for you…

If you have a God great enough and powerful enough to be mad at because he doesn’t stop your suffering, you also have a God who’s great enough and powerful enough to have reasons that you can’t understand.  You can’t have it both ways… If you’re at the mercy of the storm, its power is unmanageable and it doesn’t love you.  The only place you’re safe is in the will of God.  But because he’s God and you’re not, the will of God is necessarily, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond your largest notions of what he is up to (pp. 53-55).

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