Have you ever experienced a divine disconnect? I’m referring to that gray area of our lives where the truth of God hasn’t quite penetrated our daily reality. That place where espoused faith hasn’t yet evolved into experiential faith. That form of compartmentalized faith where the “compartment” seems to be just out of reach of our everyday lives.
As odd as it may seem, the disciples also experienced this divine disconnect, even though divinity was standing right next to them (or sleeping, as it were). One such example is found in chapter 4 of Mark:
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” — Mark 4:35–41
By this point in Jesus’ ministry, the disciples had witnessed him preach, teach and heal with unequaled authority. They had been up close and personal to more than one miracle. They knew what he was capable of. And they were probably the Master’s biggest fans.
But at the moment that things began to go south (or blow south?), the disciples changed their tune. Their question is accusatory: “Do you not care…?”
Had Jesus done anything to deserve this doubting inquisition? It was not a question of what he had done, but what he hadn’t done. The disciples were facing imminent danger and destruction and, unbelievably, Jesus was doing nothing about it. How could he do such a thing? You can almost hear the wounded disbelief in their voices.
But after rousing himself and silencing the sea, Jesus turned the questions back on them: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Jesus doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t offer a mea culpa for leaving his boys hanging. He doesn’t justify their concern, and he isn’t too empathetic, either (“Wow, I’m sure that must have been scary,” he does not say.) Instead, he went beyond the emotion of the moment to the real issue: “Where is your faith?”
If God is who he says he is (and he is), and if God can do what he says he can do (and he can), and if God loves us as much as he says he does (and he does), then God must be all-good and all-powerful all the time, in the midst of the storm as much as the calm. This may be why, in the middle of a harrowing storm, Jesus had the audacity to ask his disciples why they were afraid. I don’t think he was being unreasonable. He was basically telling them, “I don’t want you trust me only when circumstances are under control. I want you to trust in me, even when they seem out of control.”
Indeed, it is the times when things are most out of control that we need our faith the most. While we may prefer calm in our lives, the storm is often the best environment for God to demonstrate his power. If we check our faith at adversity’s door, we relinquish the most important thing meant to sustain us through it. Faith is a shield (Ephesians 6:16), and so it stands to reason that we need that shield the most where the battle is the fiercest.
If you are finding yourself in a storm right now (and are wondering why your Savior is “sleeping”), is your response consistent with fear or with faith? I encourage you to take up your shield, stand firm, and listen to the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11:1) who are cheering you on in the fight. And if you look closely, you might just see a few storm-weathered disciples among the crowd.