Reflection for 22nd March 2020 – Jesus calms the storm

Reflection for 22nd March 2020       Jesus calms the storm         Mark 4: 35 – 41

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ’Quiet! Be still!’ then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?!’

Right now we’re in a storm of anxiety and fear in this country and spreading over the whole world and I wonder – how do we react in the storms of life? The disciples – some of them at least – were experienced fishermen and would have been well-acquainted with the squalls that suddenly appeared over the Sea of Galilee. I can imagine that, to begin with, they laughed at their companions’ unease, sure that if they sat tight and kept their heads down the storm would pass quickly and without too much drama. Maybe at first it even seemed like they were right. But then, it got fiercer – a furious squall our reading says – and the waves grew so high they threatened to swamp the boat and sink it. Now all of them were full of fear.

I’m sure you can see parallels with our present situation. To begin with, we were generally not too fazed. This storm was brewing in other countries and how often has that happened before and we’ve escaped lightly or totally? But then Covid19 came to the UK and the storm has been mounting ever since. Complacency has gone and many are afraid – scared of what it might mean if they should catch the virus and anxious about the changes in the way we live our lives as we try to slow down its spread.

In the Scripture reading the disciples turned to Jesus, waking Him from his exhausted sleep.

‘Don’t you care?!’ they demand of Him.

Who do we turn to when the storms of life hit? Do we look to our own abilities only to find they are insufficient? Do we rail at God and shout at Him because life is no longer calm and easy? Or do we simply say, ‘Lord, we’re afraid, we need you.’

Jesus was in the boat with them, that’s what I find so comforting in this passage. There was a time during which their mettle was tested but He was there the whole time. We’re going through that testing time now. We have choices to make about how we react. Will we join in with the panic and look out only for ourselves and our families or will we be stirred to acts of altruism as many are. Are we prepared to set aside our own needs, to share what we have – resources, time, reassurance, prayer? We will discover in times of crisis what kind of people we really are.

In the passage Jesus calms the storm and, as it abates, He asks the disciples where was their faith? Where is ours? This is a time when our faith in a God who is so much bigger than any storm or crisis can carry us through. How can we share that faith with others? That is our challenge – to find new ways to be Church, new ways to pray together, new ways to speak a message of hope to our nation and our neighbourhood, new ways to reach out and help and heal.

As the disciples knew and as we shall discover, through the storm Jesus is there in the boat with us and through Him and His words, we, like the disciples, shall once again find peace.

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 6 – 7


A Prayer:

Dear Lord,
You know that we are afraid and anxious.
We are worried for those we love and for ourselves.
We are concerned for our friends and our neighbours.
The immediate future seems bleak.
We ask for the comfort of your presence close to us at this time
and the strength and equipping of your Holy Spirit to help us through each day.
In this time of trial, help us to have faith in you.
Help us to reach out to others in your love and grace.
Remind us that you are a great God and you hold us in the palm of your hands.
You are our refuge and our Rock and in you we trust.

A hymn: O God, our help in ages past

Click the link below to listen to the hymn being sung – and join in!

Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
our Shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal Home.

Before the hills in order stood
or earth received its frame,
from everlasting Thou art God,
to endless years the same.

Our God, our Help in ages past,
our Hope for years to come,
be Thou our Guide while life shall last,
and our eternal Home!