In stormy times, where is your faith?
A Lenten reflection on Luke 8:22-25
Stormy times always kick up this question, “Lord, where are you?”. This past year, covid et al has had many of us ask that question. At times it seems like we are perishing under the wind and the waves and the storm is relentless. In the Gospel of Luke 8:22-25 the disciples say to the Lord in Luke8:24, “Master, Master, we are perishing!
Which one of us would ever forget the moment we almost died. The disciples remember the time they almost died. The storm and the wind came down on the lake and the boat was filling with water and they were in danger (Luke8:23b). In a way the question Jesus asks them “where is your faith” seems a bit unfair. These were seasoned fishermen who are used to handling rough waters and this storm must have been out of their depth. Luke clearly tells us that they were in danger. Is not the question of Jesus a bit unreasonable in the face of danger? Are we too in the dock with the Lord when we cry out to help to him in our storm?
The Gospel records four reactions of Jesus in this chronological order. (1) He awoke (2) He rebuked the wind and the raging waves (and they ceased) (3) there was calm (4) AND THEN he said to them, “where is your faith”. While I have stuck to the order of events, I have deliberately added what is in parenthesis and some words in capitals to draw out the obvious conclusion.
We are told that the Lord awoke when they called out to him. Till then he slept through the storm! So, is it a bad thing that Jesus is sleeping in our boat while a storm rages in our lives? Let’s first get this right. He may be sleeping but HE IS STILL IN OUR BOAT. Jesus has not abandoned us! If Jesus is asleep in your boat during a storm, that’s a good thing. Think about it, If Jesus is not worried about the storm and is sleeping through it then you too should catch a few winks. Just relax, stop stressing over your storm. Enjoy his peace. One day you will look back and think, ‘ah that was nothing, just a bad gust of wind.’
But I have another take on why he slept through the storm. Perhaps he slept simply because they did not give him the oars; maybe they just wanted to take charge of the boat (as do we with our life); and so, he slept. But when he heard them cry for help, he awoke. The Lord sits up in our distress. He does not slumber; he is attentive to our cry. The Bible has also assured us of the promise of his presence. Jesus was with them in the boat. Remember his words, “I will NEVER leave or forsake you.”
He then rebuked the wind and the raging waves and they ceased. If Jesus begun a post mortem on the disciples spiritual behaviour (as with us) they would be found guilty for slacking with God even in the devil’s own court. Interestingly, Jesus did not right away begin to lecture the disciples on their faith; that he will do, but later. For the moment he does what needs to be done. He rebukes the wind and waves. But here is something that will trouble us. Why are the wind and the waves still crashing on my boat? Why do I still fail to feel the calm? That I will answer when I explain the statement of Jesus, “have you no faith.” Having said that each one of us experiences our storm calming in different ways. Some feel God’s presence even in a smallest change in our situation while most expect a complete reversal of the tragedy we experience.
Finally, he says, “where is your faith?” When Jesus says, “where is your faith?” he is not asking them if they have faith or if they have lost their faith. He does not say, why don’t you have faith. He simply says where is it? He is TEACHING them that faith is the opposite of their panic. Did the disciples not have faith? Of course they had faith, they just forgot they had it and panicked and that made them momentarily doubt.
When Jesus was saying where is your faith, he was actually saying why are you looking at the storm instead of looking at me? You know me, you know what I have done for you in the past. You have seen me raise the widow’s son in Luke 6:15, you have seen me heal a man with a withered hand in Luke 5:10, you have seen me cleanse a leper in Luke 5:13.
When Jesus says where is your faith, he is also questioning the fact that they don’t put their trust in HIS WORD. In verse 22 he says to them, “let us go across to the other side of the lake.” He never said we are going UNDER the lake. He was clear where he wanted to go with them, to the other side which means that they were not going to drown no matter how bad the storm was. God makes us a promise, grab that promise for his promise is true.
Faith needs to be turned on in times of panic and worry. We need to remind ourselves of the faith experiences we have lived through already. We need to remind ourselves of the many times we have received grace in our moments of trial. Jesus is confronting his disciples by telling them to allow that faith to come to the surface and fight this storm even though panic causes us to forget all that Jesus has done for us. Once you have confidence in God’s character you let your faith manifest it. Troubles are going to come but when you make a decision to trust God then you are able to live it and demonstrate it in your storm.
In your storm you must remember that no weapon formed against you can prosper (Isaiah 54:17). The final authority is not your storm or your situation, the final authority is Gods. Remember Pilate? He wanted to control Jesus. In John 19:10 he says to Jesus, “do you not know that I have the power to release you and the power to crucify you?” Pilate wants to control us as do the storms of our life. To Pilate and our storms, we simply have to say, “NO YOU DON’T have any power unless it comes from above. This puts danger in its place, this takes care of our storms. When danger and anxiety creeps into your life, quote the devil John 19:11. Only God has the ability to affect my life and that the final authority in every storm is God’s. You need a heart of faith to say this.