Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!—Matthew 8:26
What do the storms do best? Storms catch us when we least expect it. They surround us on all sides. They blow all our hopes away. They frighten us down to the very core of our faith.
Who among us hasn’t experienced a stormy situation? These sudden storms, that rise up in our lives, may take different forms.
Today a storm of biblical proportions has taken the shape of a pandemic crisis. Not only was it unexpected, it is also unpredictable. And fear follows as the COVID-19 crisis builds momentum across our world.
Some 2000 years ago, in a remote corner of our planet, the Gospel of Matthew 8:23-27 recounts the story of Jesus and his followers boarding a boat and setting sail across the sea.
The Sea of Galilee happened to be notorious for its fearsome windstorms that rise up without warning. Well, this particular storm had caught them off guard, as the winds tore into their sail and the waves broke into their boat.
While all hell broke loose on the deck, Jesus was sound asleep in the stern of the boat. The panicked-stricken crew on board shook him awake and cried out, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (NLT)
Soaking wet and shivering cold, they clung on to Jesus as their fragile vessel rocked violently. He was their only hope—their last lifesaver—as they faced certain death.
While Jesus stood at the bow of the boat, he addressed their little faith which was drowning under their big fear. Then he turned his attention to the stormy crisis at hand and commanded the howling wind to shut up and the raging sea to be still. And guess what happened next? The wind and the sea obeyed the word of Jesus immediately. The wind became silent and the sea became as smooth as glass.
His drenched and doubt-filled disciples witnessed the sheer power of Jesus’ commanding words and just couldn’t believe their eyes.
In fact, they couldn’t stop rubbing their eyes in wonder asking, “What just happened here?” and “How on earth did the wind and the sea possibly bow down to Jesus?” Their little faith was fortified by sight as the ferocious storm gave way to a clear sky and calm sea.
Our faith may seem strong when we are sailing smoothly over a conflict-free world. It’s when an un-forecasted storm strikes at the core of our being that the fortitude of our faith is tested. It’s in the crisis where we sometimes tend to doubt the sovereignty of Christ in the cosmos.
And it’s during these crucial moments when our faith, anchored in the presence of Christ, fears, falters and fails at the first sight of danger when death is close at hand.
Our little faith may demand a bigger boat in the crisis, but our Lord requires a bigger faith in him.
Part of the reason for our doubt and distress is our incomplete knowledge of the person of Christ, along with his great authoritative power at work in our lives. We fall short of fathoming his true purposes for both the planet and his people who live upon it.
All too often, we are not on the same page in discerning the divine intentions of our Lord and how he desires to move us to the next level of our faith in him.
Jesus allows our faith to grapple with the crisis for a season in order to experience the impact of his amazing presence and grasp the answer to an all-important question: “Who is Jesus Christ, that even the peril of this COVID-19 pandemic and its imminent threat of death bow down and obey him?”
In-Home LifeGroup Study Guide
We have all had our share of braving storms in our lives. Some storms have been forecasted while other storms have come upon us suddenly and ferociously. How are you holding up in the midst of our current storm, the coronavirus pandemic? Allow each member of your LifeGroup to share his or her experience.
Read Matthew 8:23-27. How did Matthew, one of Jesus’ followers who got into the boat, describe the storm they sailed into?
As the disciples were seized with fear, what could you imagine they did (though we are spared of the details) in order to stay afloat? While Jesus was sleeping in the stern of the boat, what do you think was going on in the minds of his panic-stricken followers?
When was the last time Jesus tested your faith in a stormy situation? Did you feel like the Lord abandoned you or was he present in your life?
What is the one thing you learned about Christ after enduring your crisis?
Pray together: LORD God, thank you for your presence in our lives in the midst of the crisis. As fear seeks to overwhelm us like a great windstorm, remind us that you will use anything in creation, that is at your disposal, to build and anchor our faith in you. Though our knowledge of the future is uncertain and incomplete, teach us to trust in your authoritative word that hushes the howling wind and stills the raging seas. Amen.