Due to the extraordinary events surrounding the globe at this point in time, I’d like to direct your attention to one of the more famous stories of the life of Christ: the stilling of the storm. This story appears in 3 of the 4 Gospels. In each account, the very last words are spoken directly from the lips of the Apostles. They rise this rhetorical question, which in part is directed to the reader, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27 ESV). It is the aim of our lives to answer that question both faithfully and sufficiently.
If you are unfamiliar with this story, I invite you take a moment and read Matthew 8:23-27. At His command, the disciples set out on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. However, as was often the case, a storm arose. The Sea of Galilee sits roughly 700 ft below sea level and is well known for its violent and sudden squalls.
Our world is in many ways like this very Sea. As we consider how many of us are presently socially distancing ourselves, or self-quarantining, we can identify with those whose whole lives seemed to face sudden upheaval. But there was a difference. Many of the Apostles had been professional and seasoned fishermen; they had been accustomed to storms. But there was something very different about this storm. The storm was tremendous! It was earthshattering! It was so powerful that these seasoned sailors were quivering as they presumed Death had circled all around them.
Do you feel like that presently? Everything was calm and was “business as usual”, and then all of a sudden, here we are getting up early in the morning hoping to buy toilet paper. Our world has radically shifted in the last few weeks. And yet, in many ways, very little has changed. We were never immortal, we only acted as if we were. We were never almighty, we only presumed the world was ours for the taking. I don’t mention all of this to wrap you up in a blanket of fear, but to merely point out the obvious: To be human is to be mortal.
Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, Death has encircled us much like a shark around a liferaft. There’s nothing new about this situation, we’ve only been awakened from our media saturated slumber. How should we handle it though? A better question is, “What did the Apostles do?”
The text tells us that the Apostles ran to the sleeping Christ and shouted “Save us, Lord; we are perishing” (Matthew 8:25 ESV) Isn’t it a shame? For people who had been so familiar with the power of Christ they were so quick to fear. They had seen the Lord work the miraculous. Countless men and women had been healed. Demons had been jettisoned from their hosts. But they presumed that this situation was too great. Christ could do many things, but perhaps they found something too big for Jesus.
We can read about these men and perceive them to be fools. However, we aren’t all that better, are we? For the disciples, they allowed the chaos of their moment to determine the faithfulness of God, rather than allow the faithfulness of God to determine their moment. When we allow our circumstances to have the bottom line for our future, we ultimately eject Christ from His throne. In those moments, Jesus is not the Lord of our situations; we are.
Every Lord’s Day (Sunday) our church prays the Lord’s Prayer. In that prayer which Jesus instructed us to pray it says, “Thy Kingdom Come”. Do you recognize that this sacred petition has our world as its intended target? What do I mean? Our Heidelberg Catechism in Question 123 says that in this petition we are asking God “govern us by Your Word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves unto You always more and more…” This is a daily submission unto Christ, not merely to broad Christian duties like reading Scripture and praying. This involves moment-by-moment trust that the Lord Jesus Christ who stilled the storm them, abides with us, and will never abandon us in our greatest moments of need.
I do not know what will be happening in the days, weeks, and months ahead in light of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). What I do know is that Jesus is still on His throne. What I do know is that He is praying for us even in these moments. Rather than leading you to despair, may these difficult times remind us that we are still creatures in need of our loving Creator and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. For this is the great gem of the Christian faith. That God did not remain idle when considering the estate of fallen mankind but came near to us, when we could not come near to Him.
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