And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him? (Matthew 8:23-27 NRSV)
I have had my doubts about this story. Was Jesus really asleep while the storm was raging? The windstorm was ferocious, the waves were washing over the boat, the disciples were petrified… and Jesus was sleeping? I could believe he was reading or resting in spite of the storm, but how could he sleep while chaos and calamity surrounded them all? I have trouble imagining this.
Until I recall when my daughter was an infant.
When Jennie was about three months old, I was nervous about leaving her in a nursery room while I tried to enjoy my first Moms’ Morning Out. I became even more unsettled when I saw SO many children- some of them crying, some of them playing noisily, some of them running- all around the room. I hated to leave her! Worried, I returned to check on her about fifteen minutes later.
Jennie was sleeping soundly, oblivious to the noise, clutter, crying, and activity all around. In her short little life, she had always been well loved. That morning, her needs had been met and she was ready to rest. She didn’t become concerned, anxious or stressed. She probably wasn’t even aware that she should feel such feelings! This tiny child had no reason to be afraid; she even had no idea of a need to be afraid.
This is what sheer peace and trust look like. As Jesus peacefully slept through the storm, he exemplified his genuine lack of fear and complete trust in God. Jesus was able to sleep because he knew that whatever happened, God was in control, and he would be firmly and fully held in God’s loving care. “Why are you afraid?” Jesus justifiably asks his friends.
Like Jesus, may we learn to trust and rest in God’s loving presence, whenever the storms of life come our way. Perhaps Jesus is saying to us, “If I can sleep, so can you.”
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?”
What is your biggest fear? Are you able to surrender this to Jesus? Can you entrust yourself into his loving presence? Do you ever feel as if Jesus is sleeping when the storms of life come your way? How might this image bring additional peace instead of fear?
Why are you afraid, you of little faith?