Maybe it’s the sheer volume of information we have about the world, or perhaps it’s born from our desire to influence circumstances beyond our control. Whatever the reason, each of us has known real fear.
Some fear is healthy—the kind that tells us to avoid dark alleys and open flames—but that’s not the kind we struggle with, is it? We struggle with the fear that gnaws at our confidence, taunts our faith, and robs us of sleep.
Sometimes the fears swirl in on themselves, bubbling into a cauldron. Have you been there–to that place where the weight of all that’s at stake lands on your chest and chokes off your breath?
Maybe it comes from a bleak diagnosis or a serious financial hit. Maybe it’s the helplessness to change a situation or the constant reminder of a personal failure. Whatever the cause, the repercussions cause an avalanche of fear.
I believe that’s how the disciples felt in Mark 4. They were together with Jesus on a boat in the midst of a fierce storm. The passage states that the “waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped” (Mark 4:37). The fact that at least four of the men on that vessel were veteran sailors implies their fear was not without cause, but Jesus seemed oblivious. The passage indicates he was asleep in the stern.
Indignant that Jesus slept, the disciples woke him up complaining, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (vs. 38) In the midst of overwhelming fear, isn’t that what we want to know as well? Why don’t you care?
Jesus answers their question with his own. After he rises and calms the storm, he asks, “Why are you afraid?” His response seems callous at first, but I believe his intent was to teach, not to scold.
Jesus wants them to recognize the power he has over the storm—even when it rages. His calm wasn’t indifference; it was a signal to them that all would be well. He knew the intensity and the length of the storm, and he knew it would not destroy them. He knew they would be okay; he just wondered why they didn’t.
His question, if rephrased today, might read like this: Why are you so afraid when I’m right here with you?
Proverbs reminds us not to forget that the Lord created the heavens and earth and has power over them. Confident in that reality, you can
walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble. If you sit down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught (Proverbs 3:23-26).
Whatever you’re facing right now, don’t lose hope. Jesus knows the storm you’re in—how fierce it is and how long it will last—and he is right beside you through it all, so take heart and do not be afraid.
*This story can be found in Mark 4:35-41.