Jesus’ disciples heeded his call to go with him to the other side of the sea. They went with him to a place they did not want to go, a land of gentiles. This trip required a great sacrifice of both time and energy. Still, they heeded the call and went. Yet, instead of finding reward, they encountered hardship.
A great storm arose on the water that day, filling the ship with water that threatened to capsize their ship and take their lives. They put all their hopes in this man, and now they feared their hopes would be dashed to pieces with their ship and them in it.
Some like to think making a decision to follow Jesus automatically leads you to calm waters. Yet, while Jesus requires nothing less than the full surrender of our will to his, he does not promise us calm waters. Rather, he takes us out on the rough waters, where storms do come. He will later tell his disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation (John 16:33).”
However, Jesus never wastes the storms that he, in his sovereignty, allows to come our way. When his disciples wake him, he teaches them a lesson. He begins with, “O you of little faith.” Then he calms the storm. (Matthew 8:26)
Jesus had already taught them not to be anxious and to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness first (Matthew 6:25-34). Now, he shows them why he can be trusted and why they need not be anxious even when waves and wind threaten to destroy them. The man in the boat with them that day had authority over even nature. His followers marvel and asked, after he calmed the storm, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him (Matthew 8:27)?”
With Jesus in the boat with us, even life’s storms can drive us into a deeper faith with him. Just as the same fire that makes gold shine makes wood smoke, so God can use the furnaces of life to refine us, if we avail ourselves and our pain to him. If he has authority over all, what can come us that he does not will? With Jesus in the boat, even the process of death itself presents opportunities for Jesus to lead us into a deeper relationship with him. For the same one who said, “In the world you will have tribulation,” went on to say, “But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”