1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11,19-23) 32-49; Psalm 9:9-20 (or 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16; Psalm 133 [or Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32]); 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” – Vincent van Gogh
We were never promised a rose garden. But if we have one there will be thorns. Also, we were never promised a storm free life. Thorns and storms are essential for growth in life. In life storms come up quickly without notice. Who would ever expect their life to fall apart? Where is the hope? Poet and priest George Herbert said that storms make oaks take deeper roots. In today’s Gospel Jesus sleeps in the stern of the ship. In the midst of the terrifying storm the disciples wake him up and ask: “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) Message: Duh, you expected life without storms? Get a grip. Of course Jesus cares; but he is still moved to call them cowards (see Greek below). He stills the sea storm; but that is not the primary example of his care. Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes God calms the sailor. Calming the sailors is God’s main act of concern. The wise person in the storm prays to God, not for safety from peril, but escape from fear. There will be storms of lose (job, friend, respect, honor), storms of emotion (depression, sadness), storms by death, hatred and unfairness, storms we never thought would come our way. Hear Jesus say to our fear “Quiet, be still.” (Mark 4:39) Look to see who sleeps in the stern of our life’s ship. Ride the storm.
Most translations of Mark 4:40 have Jesus ask why the disciples are “afraid” or “terrified.” However, the common word for fear is not used here. The word used here is only found 3 times in the whole New Testament, only this one time in Mark. It means “cowardly.” The word involves fear, but showing fear in a shameful way. Jesus is asking in Mark 4:40 “Why are you cowards?”
Windy life storm tossed,
yet peace asleep in the stern.
Quiet, calm, be still.