On Jesus’ instructions, the disciples had sent the crowd away and had set out to go over to the other side of the lake into the country of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1). At some point in the journey, a tired Jesus fell asleep in the back of the boat. Everything was fine as they left out, then the narrative tells us that after a while “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (Mark 4:37, KJV). The word translated storm could also have been translated as squall – “a sudden violent wind often with rain or snow.” Despite some of the disciples being seasoned fishermen, they were overwhelmed by what had overtaken them. So much so that Mark wrote, “and they awake him (Jesus), and say unto Him, ‘Master, carest thou not that we perish?'” (v. 38). The NIV puts the question more bluntly, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
The disciples’ words reflect the feelings of some of us when we are overtaken by life’s storms. When it seems that the phrase “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear” is more of a cruel joke than it is our reality. Hymnist Mary Ann Baker put our thoughts into words when she wrote, “Master, carest thou not that we perish? How canst thou lie asleep? When each moment so madly is threat’ning, a grave in the angry deep?” and these words ring true from the depths of our soul as we face our respective challenges. However, we need not despair because Jesus did not sleep through the disciples’ despair, but “He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (v.39).
Believers, especially, should be encouraged that Jesus responds to the cries of the sincere heart. Not only does He respond, but He has all the power and authority to rebuke every adverse wind in our lives and speak peace to our troubled hearts and minds. Though they awoke Jesus in a moment of despair, the disciples recognized that He was the only one who could do something about the situation they faced. Once He had calmed the storm, He looked at them and asked, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith and confidence [in Me]?” (v. 40, AMP). To feel overwhelmed is a human response; to experience chronic fear and anxiety in those situations is a faith issue. It is no wonder Peter encourages us to cast and keep on casting “all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7, AMP).
As we face the squalls in our lives, how do we respond? What would He say to you and me? I trust and pray that whenever we find ourselves asking if Jesus/God really cares, we can sing triumphantly with the hymn writer: “Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares / His heart is touched with my grief / When the days are weary, the long nights dreary / I know my Saviour cares.”