Peace Be Still

“Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful?” Mark 4:39-40 NKJV

Jesus is napping, there are experienced fishermen among them, nothing should be a problem. Then there’s a storm, in the middle of the sea. They become afraid and lose their minds. Then they call on Jesus, when it seems all is lost. He says three words (one word in Greek ) and changes everything.

The word he used in the Greek is “siapao”. It means an involuntary stillness, a hush, muteness. In English it is translated to “Peace, be still.” The waves were roaring around them. Matthew says that the storm was fierce[1], Mark calls it a great windstorm[2], and Luke says “they were in great danger”[3].  It seems that the writers may have come across a lack of appropriate words for the situation.

If there are several experienced fishermen who are in a boat on water that they have been on a million times when a storm comes upon them such to terrify them into believing they would die, it must be a storm of great proportions. And yet…Jesus is sleeping. Let me be clear, Jesus is sleeping through a storm that is terrifying experienced fishermen. What the heck?!

I think Jesus went to the other side so that we could see that we take too long to call on him. Maybe it’s just me. I try to do all the things by myself. I think I’m a super hero, superwoman without the thigh-boots.  I think that I don’t need anyone or anything to do what I am put here on earth to do. I take the direction that I see God give to me and I run with it.

I begin to put together an action plan and write things down on a calendar. I begin to look up verses and put my fingers on a keyboard. Plan…action…plan…action. But, where is God when I’m doing that?

Oh…I’ve stopped looking at God. I’ve started looking at me and what I’m able to do. I may or may not stop to consider what God has planned. I may or may not ask for direction. I may just keep marching on. Charging ahead to do what I think is the right thing – travelling head on into the next moment like a bull after a matador.

Then, out of the blue, I reach the end of my ability and the job isn’t done yet. I reach the end of my availability and it’s not even half done. I reach the end of my strength and energy and I break down and get mad at God. I say things like “you’ve brought me here to let me fail.”

Maybe they take the journey to remind us all that when God sends us to do a thing, he doesn’t let a storm take us out in the middle. He intends the job to get done. It will get done.

Maybe it’s to remind us that when we’re in the middle of the problem, he is still with us. When we’re in the middle he doesn’t leave us.

Whatever the reason, the storm comes. Things go wrong. Things beyond our control. Life changes in an instant and we’re left feeling beaten and bruised. Like we may just sink in this storm in the middle of the sea and what are we going to do?

Can you relate? We’ve all had it. Maybe yours is – the nice guy who doted on you for weeks and tried to get you out on a date turns sideways and suddenly he’s insecure and demanding of you. He gets angry because you dress the wrong way and someone else is looking at you and it’s all your fault. Then he hits you and you don’t understand what happened.

Maybe yours is the fellow who you dated for several months, he pops the question and you said yes. You got married six months later and suddenly he’s arguing and angry all the time so you’re trying to just get along and nothing you do seems to work. You lose your job, you’re pregnant, and he hits you for the first time.

Life has storms in so many different forms. Some of them are the root of evil some of them are just the way life works out. It’s drugs and alcohol and bad choices. It’s lost jobs and downed economies. It’s abuse and family cycles and lives spinning out of control. We are spinning around in circles, spiraling down the drain.

We lose our minds. We panic.

The Bible makes it sound like the disciples have kept it all together. “They awoke him.”[4] And “The disciples went and woke Jesus up.”[5] I don’t think it went like that at all – they didn’t have anything together. What they probably did is panic and run around in circles trying to bail the water out that was threatening to sink them. They probably began arguing among themselves. They couldn’t think straight. They forgot they had the God of the universe in their boat.

While Jesus slept on.

Then probably Mark begins to fight with Matthew and Luke says “Wait….Jesus has done amazing things! Let’s get him.” The others agree and like the stooges, they run over in their panic. They shout out to him “We’re going to drown! Don’t you care?!” They shout like the kid to the parent napping on the sofa when someone is knocking at the door.

Jesus knew what was going on and what was going to happen when they got in the boat. He truly is a patient person. Yet, I see his frustration with the disciples. They have watched him perform miracles, heal the sickest people, and change lives forever.

The disciples think he doesn’t know because he’s resting. His eyes are closed. Like the little kid, the perceive that the person in charge is not on the job.  They believe he’s not aware of what’s going on. They think he’s lost control of the situation.

He says to the storm “siapao.” “Peace, be still.” Everything is calm. Instantly.  Against its will. The storm is over. It doesn’t roll out, it stops. Everyone is standing around in the residuals of their fear, panic, and adrenaline with water up to their shins on the deck of the boat in the middle of their journey. And they look at him.

 He doesn’t just rebuke the wind and waves, he rebukes the disciples too. He says to them “be still.” He’s not just talking to the wind and waves and rain. He’s talking to their panic and fear and adrenaline. Stop shouting. Stop running. Stop losing your mind. Be still.

He asks “where is your faith?”

They lost faith because they thought God was not who he said he was. They let their fear get bigger than their God. They tried to fight a storm on their own and lost the battle. They forgot Jesus told them, “We’re going to the other side.” The disciples had the God of the universe on their side, on their team, in their boat, giving them directions, and they thought a storm was going to take them down.

We like to judge because they saw the miracles first hand. We like to judge because they spent so much time with him. We like to judge because they knew the prophesies. We really cannot judge. We experience miracles and we have the prophecies. We forget too. We panic too. He asks us “where is your faith.”

It happens to me all the time. It happens to so many people we know. It happens to everyone. Too many things happen all at once and we lose our mind. I go to my room and have a cry. Some people go to the bar. Some people go to the dealer.

Where is your faith? How does your God look in comparison to your situation? I’ve been reminded today that God is bigger than my problems. When God has told me to go and do a thing, he will get me to where he told me to go, he will guide me there. Storms will rise up while I’m on my way because life is imperfect and there is evil in this world.

When I’m focused on my problem, when my eye is on the storms of life, I forget who my God is. I forget to pay attention to the miracles I’ve witnessed. I forget that he is in charge and is the strength that holds me up. I forget that His is the breath of life in my lungs.

When I’m focused on him, I feel peace and stillness. He does not need to rebuke me. I can look at my storm and whisper to it “you do not know my God.” When terror threatens to overcome my heart, I must only look up. When I have no strength to stand, I kneel and pray. This is what Jesus meant when he asked “where is your faith?”

I ask you today…. “Where is your faith?” The world is a mess. Things are hard. When recovery is overwhelming. When loneliness creeps in the dark parts of your heart. When it seems all the world is against you. Adjust your focus from the problem to your God. Have faith that he will get you through this the way he has gotten you through every other thing he has brought you through. Call on him in the middle of your storm, ask him to give you faith in him.

[1] Matt. 8:24 NLT; [2] Mark 4:37 NKJV; [3] Luke 8:23 NIRV; [4] Mark 4:38 NKJV; [5] Luke 8:24 NIRV

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