(Matthew 8.23-27; Luke 8.22-25)
35That evening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let's cross to the east side.” 36So they left the crowd, and his disciples started across the lake with him in the boat. Some other boats followed along. 37Suddenly a storm struck the lake. Waves started splashing into the boat, and it was about to sink.
38Jesus was in the back of the boat with his head on a pillow, and he was asleep. His disciples woke him and said, “Teacher, don't you care that we're about to drown?”
39Jesus got up and ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet. The wind stopped, and everything was calm.
40Jesus asked his disciples, “Why were you afraid? Don't you have any faith?”
41Now they were more afraid than ever and said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
One reason youth leave the Church is because they do not feel they have experienced God, especially in the area of answered prayer. That is what a recent Canadian report called “Hemorrhaging Faith: Why and When Young Canadians are Leaving, Staying and Returning to the Church” says.
In my work as a journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to interview some thinkers around this topic of unanswered prayer. They all said to me that because (of course) we can’t force God to answer the youths’ prayers in just the way they would like, what we need to do is teach better about prayer.
What do answers look like? Sound like? How do we ask? How long does God take to answer? And what is life really like?
If youth are prepared for the harsh reality that being a Christ-follower does not mean a walk in the park – it might, after all, mean a trip in a rocking, heaving, sinking ship – then they are better prepared to hear God, see God, and experience God as he reveals himself to us in every circumstance.
The disciples experienced a storm. They experienced themselves full on; and they experienced God’s power in this familiar “stuck in a boat in a storm” story.
This passage tells us about Jesus, about what life can be like, and about what we can be like. Jesus demonstrates his supernatural power to control even the wind and the waves. The disciples demonstrate their very natural fear, but also their comfort at approaching for help the One that they still clearly had not quite figured out.
And of course we see once again, that bad things happen to good people.
Storms hit. Boats sink. We doubt. We pray.
Thank you God that you are in the boat with us. Storms do come. They make us doubt. Help our doubt. Where there are storms, let there be peace. Amen.