What is it about storms in the evening? They are so much more frightening than storms in the middle of the day. Our creaturely vulnerability takes over at sundown, I guess. With daylight gone, we put down our strength and obey our fatigue. We reward ourselves with food and drink, wrap company and shelter around us. We just want rest, comfort, security.
Jesus certainly has that impulse in Mark’s Gospel. Since his baptism in the Jordan and his temptations in the wilderness, Jesus has traveled, taught, and healed all over: in Galilee, in Capernaum, in the grain fields, in the synagogue, by the sea where crowds press in upon him, up on the mountain, back in Capernaum again, back again at the seaside teaching parable after parable to the crowds. No wonder that when evening comes he escapes by boat. No wonder he falls asleep!
But they’re heading for Gentile territory. It’s night after a long day, and the disciples are on duty without their master. The water becomes choppy. Wind howls, raising ever-taller waves that begin to swamp the boat. The disciples shout, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Though they are able fishermen, their trust is instantly gone, as if Jesus has abandoned ship. They don’t ask for his help; they leap to blame him for infidelity: “Don’t you even care about us?”
A little fear, and they’re angry. A little fear, and they act as if Jesus has betrayed them. A little fear, a little darkness, and they act as if the storm threatens them alone, not their sleeping rabbi. In a storm of fear and darkness, their love—our love—disappears.
But when Jesus commands our storm to stop, could it be that we are more terrified? Perhaps we wanted rest, comfort, security—not the Almighty beside us in the darkness, on the deep.
From fear’s treachery, good Lord, deliver us. Teach us to trust that love is behind your power. Amen.
As children of God, we will face opposition; but God will ultimately give us victory. The psalmist cries out to God asking for deliverance from oppression at the hands of his enemies and concludes the psalm with the assurance that God will do so. Tradition credits this psalm to David, who as a boy had risked his life against Goliath based on that same assurance. Goliath mocked the Israelites and their God, but God gave the victory. Paul recounts his sufferings for the gospel, yet he is not overcome or in despair, for he trusts in God. Jesus calms a storm and is disappointed that the disciples show so little faith. Why do they not believe in God’s deliverance? And what about us? Do we still believe in God’s deliverance?
Read 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49. What “armor” do you use to protect yourself? When have you found the courage to put aside your armor because it was holding you back?
Read Psalm 9:9-20. When have you been provoked to cry out, “Rise up, O Lord?” On whose behalf did you cry?
Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. How have you commended yourself as a servant of God?
Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.