From Gary Paulsen:
Luke 8:22-25 “One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
In the mid 1980’s country music star Randy Travis recorded a song that contained the lyric, “The storms of life are washing me away.” I wonder how many of us can relate to those words? As the economy flounders, as some experts encourage our leaders to lift the quarantine while others demand we stay in lockdown, as our political leaders bicker and quarrel concerning these crucial problems, it is easy to think that this current storm of life is indeed washing us away.
The question arises in the midst of severe and desperate times: does God love me? Do I believe that he is caring for me even in these most trying times? The good Christian answer is, “Well, yes, of course he does.” But often times our actions speak louder than our words concerning the reality of our trust in the Lord’s love and care for us, especially in extreme conditions. In Luke’s gospel we have recorded for us an incident that tested the faith of the disciples. It was a test that they failed, but through their failure believers can learn. We can discover what true faith looks like.
It is imperative that here we understand that the “faith” that Jesus refers to in verse twenty-five is not saving faith. This “faith” Jesus is asking about is the faith that answers the question, “Does the Lord love me even in the most extreme circumstances?” “Does he care about me when my world is falling apart?” “Is he even paying attention when my situation is frightening?” Jesus answers those questions with a question of his own, “Where is your faith?”
“Where is your faith?” The question is really a rebuke. Considering all the miracles that these men had witnessed over the past few days, including Christ raising a man from the dead (Luke 7:11-17), is it any wonder that the Lord rebukes the disciples with this demand? “Where is your faith?” Jesus asks the question because of the disciple’s reaction to the extreme threat posed by the storm. They were terrified and they panicked and that led to faithlessness. They had even forgotten character of whom it was who was asleep in the stern of the boat. According to Mark’s account of the same incident, in the minds of these disciples Jesus had no concern for them, “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’” Well, he did indeed care and in a demonstration of his deity he immediately calmed the storm. But also, he asked the disciples this vital question, “Where is your faith?”
Through this storm we are all now facing, concerning the virus, the quarantine, and the economic hardship bought about by the shutdown, Jesus is asking us, “Where is your faith?” We may well ask, “What does that kind of faith look like? How can I know if I have it? What can I do to live that kind of faith?” Here are some observations I have to help answer that vital question:
First, understand that faith is not feeling. In the incident we have been observing, the disciples faced real danger. That danger prompted them to feel fear, to then panic, and their emotions overcame them, they were controlled by their feelings not faith. But true faith overcomes fear.
Secondly, true faith is not something that just happens. It is not instinctive. True faith in the Lord’s ability to care for us in difficult circumstances is something that must be applied to the situation. This kind of faith must be put into operation by our minds and affections. We must think through the circumstance and apply our faith to the adversity.
So you ask, how is that accomplished? We must, first, refused to be controlled by the negative events that have come upon us. The disciples were dominated by their situation and they were fearful rather than faithful. So, we must absolutely reject the impulse of fear and panic. We must say “no” to hopelessness, despair, and anxiety. We must actively, as a matter of our wills, say, No! I will not allow this situation to dominate my thinking. I will place my foot on the neck of fear and not allow it to rise up and control me.
Secondly, we must use our minds to reflect upon what we know to be true. By a concerted act of our wills must begin to think and remember that which we know to be true about our Lord and his relationship with us. And we must place that knowledge up against our fears, trepidations, and doubts. We must push back concerning the chaos we observe around us. We must engage our minds and remember, reflect, and recall what we know concerning our Lord and his care for us.
Remember these things. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved” Eph. 2:4-5).
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7).
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me” (Isa. 49:14-15).
Brothers and sisters, refuse to panic in the storms of life. Reject despair and do not allow fear to rise up and control you. Rather, stop and consider the One who saved you, the One who cares for you like a brother. His care and love for you can be measured by his blood spilled for you and me on the cross. Set your minds on these things and the storms of life will never wash you away.