He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
Question #5 – Why Are You So Afraid?
Who plans a sailing trip knowing a storm is headed straight for him? Well, Jesus did (Mark 4:35-41). Of course, it makes a big difference when you know you will safely arrive at your intended destination in spite of the storm.
Being Omniscient, Sovereign God, Jesus foreknew there would be a storm on that sea, on that specific night. Yet He still asked them to set sail. It was no surprise to Him when He walked up to the disciples in their watery fury. He did not hurriedly run up and apologize, Guys! I am so sorry for sending you into this mess! I had no idea! No, He knew exactly what would happen from the moment He told them to sail to the other side. He wanted them to experience that crazy ride while fully trusting Him that everything would be okay. That storm, that night, that ship, that group of people – all of it was under His control.
When the disciples fearfully woke Him, what was His response? Did He apologize for falling asleep and leaving them in peril? Did He jump up and start bailing water, shouting orders, or rowing feverishly? No, He scolded them for their lack of faith.
Imagine that. Scared out of their wits and crying out to Jesus for help and what did He do? He scolded them. For what? For their poor navigation skills as fishermen? For their failed efforts to row hard enough? Because they did not bail water fast enough?
Fear – A Test of Faith
No, He did not scold them for anything they could have done in their own strength. He scolded them for their lack of faith and reliance on Him. He scolded them for fearing the storm and not faithfully focusing on Him. He was teaching them that if they truly trusted Him, they would have caught a quick nap on the deck beside Him.
Life follows the same pattern we find in this story. Jesus encourages us to trust Him regardless of the stormy circumstances life brings with its adversity and hardship. The life lesson is that when storms arise, they represent tests of our faith. Do we really trust God? Will we believe His Word? Do we believe He has sovereign control over all the details of our lives? More specifically, do we fully understand there are no “uh-oh” moments or apologies with Him?
In the face of our fears, God asks us, Why are you so afraid? What are you afraid of? Which life event causes you concern? What keeps you up at night? Is it the known fears of illness, accidents, marital struggles, divorce, unfulfilled promises, financial disaster, or unemployment? Or the unknown fears of disappointments, subtle attacks, betrayals, or the uncertainty of tomorrow?
How Will You Answer?
God does not want us to live in fear. Throughout His Word He gives insight on how to overcome it. Psalm 91 specifically reassures us: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. To be in the shadow of something, you must be relatively close to it. It is in that closeness to God that our fears meet their doom. God promises to faithfully protect against the known fears (the arrow that flies by day) and unknown fears (the terror of night). In the daylight, you can usually see the things that come flying at you. But in the darkness of night, the unseen, unknown threats can also be entrusted to God.
Matthew 6:27 further calms our worry about life’s uncertainty: Can any of you by worry add a single hour to your life? In essence, worry or fear do nothing to enhance or improve your life. Fear is nothing more than writing a check for a bill that may never come due.
That is why God questions us: Why are you so afraid? He is prompting the exploration of our level of trust in Him. Psalms 56:3 gives us the answer: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In the worst scenario, even if your ship sinks in the storm, being snuggled up close to Jesus is the safest place to be.
It is my hope and prayer that you will grow to trust God in all situations and circumstances of your life. Besides, you can’t really control them anyway!
(Link to Question 4; link to Question 6)