Trouble Gets In the Way
The year 2020 was supposed to be the year of “vision,” right? Well everyone, here we are, past the midpoint, and searching for answers to this global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus. There has been no person, prophet, or pulpiteer yet who has claimed to have warned the world of this. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicted what would happen without a pandemic response team and alas, here we are. We are without answers and thousands upon thousands dead, lives claimed by the volatility of this somewhat unknown virus. This devastation is reminiscent of the disciples in the boat with Jesus. He could have quickly told them to be on the lookout for a storm, or simply made mention of overcast skies ahead of their trip. What I take heart in is the fact that Jesus allowed them to experience the storm with Him in the boat. Can you imagine their fate had He not been in the boat with them? As we face this Coronavirus crisis and global pandemic, we can be comforted though we are troubled because Jesus is with us. Jesus didn’t offer the disciples a detour; and much like the disciples in that storm, we too must go through this crisis to reach “the other side” and that which the Lord has in mind for us.
In Scripture, the disciples encountered storms on the sea and needed Jesus’ intervention on two separate accounts. In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus sends the disciples on their way as he finished up with the crowd after feeding the 5000 plus. They encountered a storm but later saw Jesus walking on water. Unsure of who the figure is and doubting that it is Jesus (because they had never seen Him walk on water), Peter asked Jesus to command him to also walk on water. The miracle about this is that Peter had the faith to walk on water because Jesus commanded him to do so. Isn’t that wonderful that with the command, Jesus gave him the power to walk on water? Trust me that we will need water-walking faith in this season!
In our text for the book (Mark 4:35-41), Jesus is in the boat with the disciples after telling them to cross to “the other side.” This Coronavirus crisis has caused many of us to forget where we are and Who is with us. The storm even has a way of forcing us to forget the directive and importance of the mission of crossing to “the other side.” This pandemic is causing panic, but don’t forget Who’s in the boat with you. Just because the Lord has allowed a storm to rock the boat, doesn’t mean that He will allow it to consume you. The disciples were incredulous when they noticed that Jesus was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep. In a moment like that, I’m sure I would have been apoplectic, flipping out upon finding Jesus asleep during the storm. Facing death as the disciples thought they were, that knee jerk reaction seems about right for me…y’all keep me in your prayers.
Why was Jesus asleep? Was He a heavy sleeper like me, or was there something else to it? Let’s examine a brief timeline of what led up to that storm on the sea of Galilee. In Mark 3:7, Jesus withdrew to the sea of Galilee to teach, and in verse nine of that chapter, He tells the people to hold a ship for Him because of the large crowd. He would later teach from that ship (Mark 4:1-2). In verses thirteen to nineteen of Mark chapter three, Jesus ordains the twelve for the sake of them preaching, healing the sick and casting out devils.
From verses three to thirty-two of chapter four, Jesus teaches in parables about the Kingdom but later explains the parables with clarity to the disciples in verse thirty-four. In verse thirty-five, Jesus commands them to pass to “the other side,” and the account of the storm begins. Tacit knowledge of the story would suggest that the ship with Jesus and the disciples was the only ship headed to “the other side,” but this passage makes known that there were “other little ships” (Mark 4:36) with them. What about the other little ships? They were in the same storm, yet we don’t have an account of their time in the storm. Were they also panicked and threatened with capsizing like the disciples? Were they praying? We don’t know their condition, only that of the disciples, yet Jesus calmed the storm that threatened them all! Mark 5:21 alludes to Jesus and the twelve returning to the coast of Galilee when Jairus meet Him. So, what about the “other little ships”? It’s safe to surmise that they also returned. Many of you reading this are asking that as you wonder about your friends and family in this season (what about them?). Regardless of your age, race, sexual orientation, creed, social or financial status, we’re all in the same storm in need of the Savior!
The storm arose and threatened their arrival to the Gadarenes (“the other side”). Don’t let this pandemic cause you to forget what you were working on in the first quarter of the year. Don’t allow it to rob you of your God-approved future. Press on! Most importantly, don’t think that this pandemic negates the Word the Lord has already spoken over you. We will make it out of this storm, and this crisis is no cause for alarm! Yes, it has claimed the lives of people we know and love. Yes, it is buckling global financial systems, challenged medical science, and has interrupted normalcy, but if your ship is sinking, it’s time to search for the Savior!
The storm also happened after the disciples had already been ordained and given the power to heal and cast out demons (Mark 3:15). They had power, but did they have faith? Is that the faithlessness Jesus rebuked? Could it be that they weren’t sure of the extent of their power? That’s an appealing thought because chapter four begins with Jesus ministering to the people about the Kingdom. After calming the sea, the disciples marveled that Jesus also had power over nature (Mark 4:41). When Jesus got up, He spoke peace over the sea and the disciples. This peace that was in Him caused Him to be asleep amid a tumultuous storm! This wasn’t just any storm…water was in the boat, and by all indications, the sea would soon consume their lives! This Coronavirus is everywhere, a real crisis right outside our doors. We are faced with a dilemma as close to us as our doorstep!
I surmise that the storm on the sea wasn’t a test for Jesus, it was for the disciples. Do you know the power you have? Don’t be surprised that trouble has shown up on your way to “the other side,” and don’t be alarmed that Jesus didn’t intervene and stop the storm before it affected you. As inconvenient as this crisis has been, ask yourself, “what’s on the other side?” What were you pursuing before the world was ordered inside? Please, don’t lose sight of what you were in pursuit of before the storm!
The next chapter (five) begins when a man overcome by demonic possession meets Jesus at the coast. Friends, we can’t let the journey to the other side cause us to forget the mission at hand. The short trip served a purpose. That singular encounter wasn’t only for the Gadarenes; it was for Decapolis, the man’s hometown. The man told everyone he could on his way home, can you imagine the impact of his testimony throughout that region. There will be people healed, delivered and set free because you persevered to make it to “the other side” of this crisis. Jesus was forced away from the Gadarenes and returned to Galilee, where Jairus met Him and pleaded for Him to raise his daughter from the dead. Also, the woman with the issue of blood was healed on the way to his house. All this happened after having made it through the storm and to “the other side.”
Is worry about the pandemic consuming you? You need peace and not panic! This scenario is proof that one word from the Lord can and will change your situation. Get back to the Word to hear from the Lord right now. Re-visit sermons you’ve already heard and listen to new sermons you were otherwise too busy to stop and listen to, before. Fill yourself with the Word and not worry!
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
What Can God Do with Our Worry?
The Word has answers for even a global pandemic of this scale, so find the solution for your situation in the Word. I’m reminded of a sermon preached by Pastor Bryan Carter of the Concord Church in Dallas, Texas. He taught an ensuring message of hope entitled, “Trusting God in Tough Times” and used Psalm 46:1-3 as his subject text. I have re-visited my notes from that sermon several times to remain calm as the Coronavirus crisis rages. The pandemic and ongoing crisis affects all of us differently, and to combat our anxiety and feelings of unease, I want to encourage you to seek solace in the Word of God.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Though we all want this pandemic to end soon, it seems that leaders are unwilling to find a cure first, relying solely on social distancing guidelines and directives to combat the spread of the Coronavirus as they reopen their economies. But, what if the pandemic isn’t over soon? What if we open the economy without closing the gap on new infections? Reports suggest that though the virus doesn’t survive in extreme heat, there may be another peak during the summer.
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Pray for wisdom from a place of peace and do what the Lord is directing YOU to do, specifically. Be patient and be prayerful as leaders decide the process for the journey forward. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice your peace for panic! This crisis is not cause for alarm in Heaven, so don’t let it remove you from the peace of God that surpasseth all understanding (Philippians 4:7). God is STILL in control, so be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). It’s irresponsible to discount the far-reaching effects of the pandemic and ensuing shelter in place orders which have closed schools, and all non-essential businesses. Whatever you’re facing due to this pandemic, know that He can handle your storm!
I trust in God wherever I may be, Upon the land or on the rolling sea;
For come what may, from day to day, My heav’nly Father watches over me.
I trust in God, I know he cares for me, On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;
Though billows roll, he keeps my soul, My heav’nly Father watches over me
-My Heavenly Father Watches O’er Me, William C Martin