A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” Luke 8:23-25
When the Andrea Gail left Gloucester Harbor in Massachusetts on September 20, 1991, and headed into the North Atlantic, no one could have known that this fishing boat would never be seen again. Only a bit of debris ever turned up, and the six crew members vanished forever. In his book The Perfect Storm, author Sebastian Junger immortalized the fate of the Andrea Gail. A film followed, but the real star of the book and the movie was the storm itself—a terrifying, relentless oppressor born of fierce wind and mountainous waves. No wonder meteorologists called it “the perfect storm.”
Three deadly elements came together in October of 1991: a front moving from Canada toward New England; a high pressure system building over Canada’s east coast; and the dying remnants of Hurricane Grace, churning along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Strong weather was coming from three of the four points on the compass, all of it converging on the little Andrea Gail.
On their own, warm air, cold air, and moist air are hardly noticeable. But when wind patterns force them together the result can be lethal. The last radio transmission of Billy Tyne, the captain of the fishing boat, came at 6:00 P.M. on October 28, 1991. He reported his coordinates to the captain of his sister ship, the Hannah Boden, saying, “She’s comin’ on, boys, and she’s comin’ on strong.”
The book and movie brought the term “perfect storm” into common usage, but the concept is as old as humanity. People have always had to deal with the convergence of multiple rough circumstances. So much can go wrong so quickly that we shake our heads and say, “When it rains, it pours.”
I’ve always found it odd that Jesus is asleep in the stern of this boat during such a serious storm. Why? This sleeping Jesus tells us that God very often seems to really take his time about storms. He lets them rage. He lets the waters come up. He lets the boat start to sink before he does anything. God often seems asleep.
Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Psalm 44: 23
What this is teaching is God will often seem asleep, because God will let storms come. He will let the waters rage. He will always let it go on longer than we think.
I believe that 50-plus percent of the distress we experience in our troubles and trials is surprise. There’s the pain of the trial, and that’ll never go away. Then there’s the surprise that the trial happened.
If you’re surprised, you’re naïve. God has told you about storms. That’s your fault if you’re shocked. You shouldn’t be surprised.
What do I know about storms? What do I know about my heart? What do I know about life? If there is a God who created all the universe, it is only logical that often his schedule would seem illogical to us.
The late Elisabeth Elliot, one of the godliest women of our generation, told about a time years ago while visiting friends who owned a sheep ranch in Northern Wales. One day she saw a shepherd pick up a sheep and take it to a sheep dip which is a large vat of liquid insecticide and fungicide, and put the sheep into the vat, and the sheep frantically fought for air. Then the shepherd pushed the head down, but the sheep kept coming up, and the shepherd kept pushing it down, because all of the surface of the sheep had to be coated with the solution to keep it from getting ill.
She said, “I wondered what it’s like to feel like your shepherd is trying to kill you? Then she remembered the death of her missionary husband at the hands of the very people he served and said, “Oh, I remember.”
After the storm is calmed, after their panic is gone, he turns to them and says, “Where is your faith?” What he’s saying is faith is a deliberate action. He says, “You have it. Use it!”
Faith is applying what you know about Jesus. The disciples were being controlled by the storm. They were being controlled by the situation.
There is a line in a poem (I can’t remember who wrote it) that says, “We will choose to remember and never be shaken.” That’s a perfect definition of faith. Jesus says, “You’ve been shaken because you were not choosing to remember.” Remember what?
In Mark’s version, we’re told that some of them said, “Master, don’t you care that we perish?” They were questioning Jesus’ love. Jesus was telling them they should have known enough about his love for them that they should have been able to handle that storm.
We have something they didn’t have. We have something far greater. We have greater evidence that we can get out and use.
When Jesus Christ was stretched out on the cross at the top of Mount Calvary, the voice of the Lord thundered in a way it never has before. God poured the storm of His wrath on His Son for our sake. We don’t know what Jesus heard, but we know he heard something like the Father saying to him, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” (Matthew 25:41)
A wise Christian is somebody who remembers what they know when the storms come. You say, “If Jesus Christ was faithful to me by staying true to me during that storm, I can stay true to him during my storm.”
But the most encouraging thing about this miracle is that the storm goes away because they go to him, even though they go to him so badly.
They say, “Jesus, wake up! Are you trying to drown us?” That’s a bad way to approach the Lord. That’s a poor prayer. That does not get an “A.” It doesn’t get a “B.” That’s sort of a “D-minus prayer.” But do you know why I don’t fail it? Because Jesus didn’t fail it.
If you just go its faith.
As the great hymn writer William Cowper wrote …
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
She’s comin’ on and she’s comin’ on strong, but if you choose to remember you will never be shaken—in your storm.