Peace, be still

I know it’s been a while, but I had a moment this summer that really got me thinking. It was back in late July, and I was driving home from a campground late at night. There was a pretty powerful storm coming towards me, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to beat it home, or if I’d have to drive for a while in the torrential rain (or what qualifies as “torrential” in Michigan). Well, I had to drive through the storm for most of the way. Trees were blowing like toothpicks, rain was pelting my car’s windshield, and I was basically scared I was going to wind up in a ditch or hitting another car. I could even see the few streetlights I passed on this country road flicker from the wind and rain.

So I had a thought. This is, for Michigan, a pretty bad storm! It was genuinely scary to be out in. But I could only imagine the sailors who direct boats through this for a living, how they must be incredibly courageous and competent in their abilities to keep the boat afloat and upright. It impressed me. I thought of how bad of a storm it would take to scare the men who spend their lives on the ocean in storms that are much more dangerous than the Michigan thunderstorm I was so afraid to drive in. It would, no doubt, take a terrifying storm to scare those sailors.

Well, Jesus’ disciples were some of those sailors. They were fishermen of the Old Testament, and for many of them, their lives were spent at sea. They were experienced, capable sailors. But as we read in Mark 4:35ff, they too had moments of fear. After Jesus had preached many of his parables (including the many types of ground that seed fell on) he and his disciples had decided to continue the ministry on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So, after Jesus had finished his preaching, they got into a small ship and began their trip. It was at this time that Jesus went into the back part of the ship and fell asleep (here, we are reminded that our Lord really was flesh!).  He was awoken, not by the severe storm, but by his disciples calling to him in fear, asking whether he even cared that they were going to die. That’s when the incredible happened, Jesus arose and simply rebuked the wind and sea with the phrase “Peace, be still,” and the wind and sea was still. In fact, Mark describes it as “a great calm.”

So, back to my little Michigan thunderstorm.  As I drove, I tried to imagine what it’d be like to have the storm just instantly stop dead in its tracks, as if it were never there. I truly couldn’t picture it. Surely the storm the disciples experienced in this passage was many times worse than the one I was driving through, and Jesus calmed that storm with three simple words. It’s no wonder the disciples spoke in awe, saying “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). It would’ve made me afraid too, had the storm I was driving in instantly stopped with the words of a man (even a man as renowned and powerful as Jesus).

There’s a lesson for us here. It isn’t that if we pray, we can control the weather. One of the lessons we can take away from this passage is that our savior is mighty beyond imagination! I said earlier that I couldn’t even imagine such a powerful storm stopping in a split second, as if it were never there, but that exact scenario happened many years ago to the disciples.  Truly beyond imagination.

Each of us struggle with things in our personal lives that create in us a storm of emotions. Sometimes we think that we can’t be calmed. We can’t feel happy, as if the hurt never even happened. But that isn’t true. Our faith must be strong in Christ! He can (and will!) prevent us from being overcome by our trials and fears. I also have experienced hurt that seems to be beyond repair, even recently, and so many of God’s people feel indescribable hurt every day. But God can calm the storm in us, and while he may use appropriate means to do so (such as friends, family, or Christian therapy), he certainly doesn’t need those means. All he needs is to whisper three powerful, efficacious words to our souls, the same words he uttered to the storm in the Old Testement.

“Peace, Be Still!”

 

Suzie Kuiper

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