Based on the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35–41)
“This world is a perfectly safe place for us to be.” (Dallas Willard)
Think about that statement for a moment. Do you believe it? I can’t say that I—living in a city known for its high crime rate—would agree. Or take the fact that I am writing this just as South Africa is facing another intense wave of Covid cases. In the middle of a pandemic going out for a cup of coffee with a friend is risky business. Perfectly safe? I don’t think so.
Yet Jesus, sleeping peacefully in a boat in the middle of a storm, believed it completely. And his words, “Quiet. Be still,” were not just commands for the wind and waves, but also for his terrified disciples and—down the ages—every person overwhelmed by the storms of life. That includes you and me.
Jesus slept because he knew that God had everything under control, be it boats in the middle of storms or lives in the middle of pandemics. But lacking his faith, we too may cry out, ‘Wake up! The boat is about to sink!’ And may even mutter under our breath, ‘don’t you care?’
The truth is boats do sink, and in the storms of life, we may even lose our lives or the people we love the most.
Does this mean God isn’t in control or that he doesn’t care? No!
Paul wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Neither death nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38-39)
If we have accepted Christ and his love into our lives, we are perfectly safe even in sinking boats.
So, let us take Jesus’ questions of rebuke into our hearts. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? Let us allow them to expose our fear and its root—a lack of faith in God.
And then let us ask him to give us his peace that surpasses understanding, and the faith that will even allow us to sleep through storms.
Our world is a-grip with storms,
skies dark on every horison.
Sometimes the rising waves are detached:
growing peaks on a pandemic graph.
Sometimes the squall is far on the skyline:
rockets ripping across the sea you once sailed.
Other times the storms are fiercely close:
Lashing our boats in ice-cold pain and grief
Setting our life’s compass spinning wildly
Every sail we lift, every rudder we wrestle
Useless to steer us safely to harbour.
Often it’s only then, in the dark confusion
That we call on your name: don’t you care?
The age-old echo of doubt and disbelief
in your wisdom
in your love
in your faithfulness.
Only to perceive you have been here all along,
And we—unaware—were watching
the storm instead of our Saviour.
I’m grateful you’re in my boat
but how I wish you would rise to rebuke
this lashing wind and these crashing waves:
Just three words
filled with sovereign power
Quiet. Be Still.
Then every assaulting wave would bow low before you.
Even if you don’t speak to the storm around me
Speak to the tempest in my heart:
Just three words
Filled with sovereign power
Quiet. Be still.
Then fear will flee and faith will rise
And I will surely know that
My true north.
My safe harbour.
This Reflection and Prayer are from a new collection of stories, reflections and prayers based on the questions of Jesus. Read the accompanying story: Why are you so afraid?