I've been studying through the book of Matthew for a while, and my goal has been to get a solid 30 minutes of study before the day starts each morning. It has been incredibly fruitful. This last week, however, has been the most incredibly grace filled week for fruit producing I have seen in quite some time. We're talking Welch's warehouse fruitful.
I'll start by explaining a passage that I've been over a thousand times before that hit me like a semi-truck this week. Jesus and his disciples are crossing the sea in a storm. The boat is being swamped by the waves (think "A Perfect Storm" style), and Jesus is sleeping. The disciples wake him and say, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And Jesus replies, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 8:23-27)
I want to point out something crucial here that I have read over constantly - "Why are you afraid?"
What a question to ask in this situation.
I have a terrible fear of deep water. I dislike not being able to see what's under me, because let's face it, only around 10% of the earth's water has been explored. That means there is a shark under there that is the size of Manhattan and it wants to eat the boat I'm on. That's neither here nor there, but what remains is this valid discomfort I get from open water. And when a storm is added to that situation, things go south real quick. So, if I'm a disciple in this situation, I'm freaking out and wondering why Jesus could ask such an incredible question.
There are some interesting things surrounding the dialogue between Jesus and the disciples. To their credit, they know to ask him for saving. They have been traveling with him for the last few weeks or so seeing him do miracles right in front of their eyes, so they have some idea that Jesus is Lord, but let's break down Jesus' response.
First, Jesus was sleeping. Let's not forget that. He was calm enough to zonk out, which should lead us in his question. I think what we have to ask ourselves is what was he really saying to the disciples in that moment? Jesus knew that the Father works everything together. His fingers are manipulating every single event in our lives down to how many breaths we take during a given hour (Matthew 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life?). He also knew the promise of the Lord that what happens is good for everyone who loves him. In that promise is the guarantee of everlasting life in heaven. Now, being disciples of Jesus, who is Lord, would you agree that they should understand that promise too? That being followers of him, they are adopted into that promise through his blood on the cross (which hasn't happened yet in the story, but He has given them enough at this point to understand they are involved in redemption) has accomplished for every single believer?
So here is what Jesus is really saying to the disciples with those 4 words I believe: "You guys, have you not been with me healing lepers, blind men, casting out demons, etc.? Have you not seen the promises my Father gave me through his prophets and scriptures being fulfilled completely in our days together? Have you listened, really listened to the words I've been preaching all this time about our salvation? So why do you even need to ask me to save you from this storm if we know where we are going to end up? My father told us we will make it to the next day, so why are you afraid of this one?"
I have been asking God to help me with my prayer. When you ask God for something, He usually doesn't just snap his fingers and give you what you want. If you want patience, he gives you opportunity to be patient. So, this week, He gave me opportunity to pray. I have been building this awesome life in my head with ultimate chick flick romanticism and superhero strength and ride off into the sunset allure, and He took it away. He also zapped me with a pretty crazy health issue that I'm seeing a doc for on Wednesday... I wanted help praying? Well, here, you can't do anything but pray for these things.
The fear of the storm I was suddenly being tossed around by drove me to say "save me Lord; I am perishing!" And He looked at me and said, "why are you afraid?"
This is how the story ends, and I left it out until now on purpose: "Then he rose and rebuked the waves and the sea, and there was a great calm." Jesus is still willing after my lack of faith to save me from my storm. Does he always make the storm stop? No, not every time as we will see in part 2. But, he is always willing to save us in our time of need.
I shouldn't be afraid, because I have him. And if I have him, I know I have everything I need. I may be covered by waves, they may even sting as they hit me, but I know that he is faithful. What is tomorrow? I don't know, all I know is the promise that is true today, right now- "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).