Jesus and the Tempest

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“Jesus calms the storm,” by Gustav Dore

One of my favorite Gospel passages is Mark 4:35-41, in which Jesus and the disciples are traveling across the Sea of Galilee at night. A supernatural storm arises and begins to capsize their boat. The disciples are terrified, but Jesus sleeps serenely through the storm. In the disciples’ fear and anxiety, they awaken Jesus, who then stills the storm and asks the disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have so little faith?” Often this passage is taught and preached as if Jesus means by his questions, “Didn’t you know God wouldn’t let our boat capsize?” But Jesus means no such thing. He doesn’t promise that everything will turn out just fine, or that the boat will keep an even keel. Jesus lives in the gritty, real world, and he knows that sometimes storms upend our lives. What Jesus means to convey to the disciples is that, even when the storms sink us, God is with us. That is how he can sleep in peace while the tempest rages.

God abides with us in love when we sail and when we sink. God shares our joy and bears our sorrow. Faith is the recognition and trust that there is no fathom we must endure without God. I have thought of this passage and this promise repeatedly this week as, for so many of us, brief periods of light and warmth have been surrounded by long stretches of cold and darkness. There is no storm in this life greater than the God who creates the heavens and the earth. There is no darkness in this world that can overcome God’s light. It is my prayer that God’s ever-presence with each of us be felt palpably in these days. We are, each and all, loved beyond measure, and, as we support one another every way we can, I pray that warmth of heart sustain us until warmth of hearth returns.


2 thoughts on “Jesus and the Tempest

  1. Dear Barkley… Wonderful as Always!!!… I had an HISSTERICAL episode in the dark last night… My cell phone fell on the floor and (being black) was invisible… I grabbed a bic lighter and leaned over and POOF …my hair caught on fire (hairspray)… I could only imagine calling 911 and telling them…ROTF… The Blaze was out in seconds… I called a girlfriend (fiance listened in) and I was laughing so hard I had a stomach ache… This is one for the Books… G-D was probably laughing too!!!… (btw – very little damage…just a few singed edges…lol… The Blaze was pretty spectacular!!!)

  2. Well, I’m glad I don’t use hairspray! I lost my cell phone …
    No, that is not why I’m writing.
    I seldom write to let you know how much I like and look forward to reading your “stuff” each week.
    This one is particularly poignant for a grief support group I was leading before the pandemic hit. I have compiled a booklet of scripture and prayers (most from the BCP) to share with those who grieve. I would like permission to share this piece, for it so well expresses what I myself have attempted to convey so many times: That God doesn’t keep bad things from happening to us but gives us strength to endure and persevere. Please let me know the particulars of citation required — if you give me permission. Love to you and the family! Nancy Page

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