Jesus, Lord of Nature

Written by Rhonda Neal

Scripture to Read: Matthew 8:23-27

Imagine being woke from a much-needed sound sleep to declarations of impending doom! Jesus had completed a long day of teaching a crowd from “a fishing vessel” and said to the disciples, “Let us go to the other side.” To cross the lake would be approximately a seven-mile trip. Jesus curled up with a cushion on the stern and went fast asleep. (This is the only recorded incident of Jesus’ sleep.)

The Sea of Galilee is nearly 700 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills ranging from 1,000 to 2,400 feet high. When cool air blows over the hills and settles onto the warm air from the lake a fierce storm may develop quickly. “Cyclonic” storms are common in the area today. A sudden “great storm” developed as the group traveled across the lake. The boat took on vast quantities of water and the situation quickly became grave. Jesus remained sound asleep.

The disciples finally yelled above the raging wind and crashing of waves “Save us Lord, we are perishing!” The Greek word used in this instance, apollumi, is not a fear of certain death; it is more a fear of ruin or loss. Jesus “rebuked” the wind and told the sea to “be still.” Despite the fact a swell will gradually subside after a storm, following Jesus rebuke the wind and the lake became “calm.”

Focusing on his disciples Jesus asked, “Why are you so timid? How is it you have no faith?” Deilos, the Greek word used for timid, communicates the idea of “cowardly.” The same word is used in 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul reminds Timothy “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline.” Cowardice does not come from God. Despite His slumber; there was no crisis because The Lord of all creation was their resource.

God speaks in our turbulent situations. Embracing His peace prevents fear and cowardice. John 14:21 records Jesus’ exhortation to the disciples: “Peace, I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Perhaps we do not benefit from His consolation and instruction because we are focused on the situation rather than the Savior.

Confidence in God’s provision is reflected in moving forward in spite of threatening obstacles. Warren and Isabel Dittemore made preparations to work as missionaries in a remote area of China while waiting for necessary travel permits. Finally, the long-awaited documents arrived.  Isabel immediately made arrangements for the necessary vaccinations. When the doctor realized Isabel was 8 months pregnant and her blood was Rh negative a “strong lecture” declared plans for China as “entirely too risky.”  After a long silent pause, Isabel stood to leave. The doctor quipped, “Of course, if your husband is Rh negative too, it won’t matter.” Isabel responded, “If the Lord want us to go to China, He’ll see that my husband is Rh negative.”  The next week Isabel called to check on the lab results. The doctor responded, “Come in, both of you, and get your shots. I’ll do anything you want. Your husband’s blood is Rh negative.”

May our trust remain steadfast in our all-powerful God, regardless of turbulent times.

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