Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” (NLT)
The first thing to realise about this familiar episode is that the disciples were in the storm tossed boat because Jesus suggested they take such a journey in the first place. A reminder that doing what Jesus invites us to do may have us encounter some threatening circumstances. It is not always smooth sailing.
Then we note that Jesus remains sleeping through the storm which kept even these experienced sailors awake. This was very likely a sleep from sheer weariness, but it is also a sleep of trust. When we sleep, we surrender control, we become helpless. Jesus was content to entrust his precious life and the lives of others to God even as the storm raged.
The disciples did what we would probably have done. They panicked. The mere presence of Jesus wasn’t enough. They needed his active intervention. And so we too want to shake an apparently dozing Jesus to come to our aid. We need some extra reassurance.
Jesus poses the same question to us as he put to his disciples. They who had witnessed Jesus’ miracle working power failed to apply what they knew to their situation. Instead of remembering Jesus’ power, they were overwhelmed by the power of the storm.
For them and for us, faith is an applying of what we believe about Jesus to whatever faces us. Faith, fundamentally, is a refusal to panic.