On a recent trip to see our son Dan and his family in Greensboro, N.C., Louise and I experienced a raging storm. The heavy rain literally surrounded their home. On top of that, a major surface drain was clogged with debris that washed into the grate. Some people in boats on local lakes were in fear for their lives.
This event reminded me of the storm the disciples experienced as recorded in Mark, chapter 6. As the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee, a vicious storm came up. These well-known eastern storms [called Sharkia in Arabic (shark)] have always caused apprehension among fishermen, according to historians. When Christ looked down from his hillside mediation spot and saw the disciples “straining at the oars, for the wind was against them” (Mk. 6:48), He came to them, walking on the sea. He spoke to them and said, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Mk. 6:50
As I journey around the country with our ministry, I meet too many people who are fearful and discouraged. The grip of fear around the spirits of some good people is keeping us from being as effective as we could be for our Lord. Our immoral culture, the threats of terrorism, the lagging economy, dishonest people, and a generation with an entitlement mentality has created a spirit of chaos and a decided lack of hope.
Life has a cruel way of taking us through the storms. However, for the disciples in the middle of the sea, there was hope. And for us, when Jesus is around there is always hope. Our human nature is that we forget how our Lord has helped us in the past. In Mark, chapter 4, a fierce gale of wind and deadly waves were breaking on their little boat. Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat and was awaken by his fearful disciples demanding that He do something for they were fearful of “perishing. By Mark, chapter 6, the disciples had already forgot how the Christ over all creation, the Son of God, was not going to let them struggle beyond what they could handle.
So what are the lessons we can learn from these two stories about the fisherman disciples? First, Jesus sent them into the storm, “Immediately, He (Jesus) made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida while He Himself was sending the multitude away.” Mark 6:45. Sometimes God allows us or sends a storm our way to mature (test) our faith or teach us a lesson we need to learn (James 1:2-4). Second, Jesus could see them from the mountaintop even though they couldn’t see Him. God is with us especially when we feel weak or afraid (Heb. 4:14-16). Finally, Jesus saved them even when they thought He was uninvolved. Don’t forget in the light what God taught you in the darkness (Is.50:10-11).
My friends, please remember there is no fear when we know and understand Jesus is near. Being able to cope with life isn’t the absence of danger but the presence of Jesus.
As you walk into the New Year what are the struggles you are coping with? What dangers can you anticipate? What about posting the Bible verses mentioned above in a convenient spot to remind you of God’s faithfulness. Also, MMC would love to send you a free Quick Reference Bible Guide that will help you quickly find the help from God’s word for those challenging times. Just email us!
Jim E. Grassi, D. Min.