Peace in the storm? Sounds great, but the reality isn’t so easy. I’m a go-getter—a fast mover, and a “do what I said I would do” kind of gal. When in crisis or facing difficulties I don’t crave the sensitive smile, hand on a shoulder, or empathetic moment. I want action. I don’t want to sit in the storm and be at peace, I want to resolve to bring peace.
Around me, the storm is raging. I’ve done all I can today to stop it or to help it pass by quickly, but still, it rages. I’ve shifted my focus to accomplishing things that have nothing to do with the issue. I cleaned random nooks and crannies, finished off my to-do list (even the things I’ve avoided for months), and played a game on my phone for longer than I am proud to admit. So, now here I am, choosing to write this as I find myself with nothing else to absorb my fear and distract my mind from the proverbial gale force winds and pouring rain.
When I think of, “peace in the storm” I envision the disciples in the boat. Those fishing boats weren’t very big and they certainly didn’t have protection from the chaotic and potentially deadly elements. While they did have things they could do to help stabilize their situation (I am sure there was plenty of bailing water out and attempting to control the sails) ultimately, they had no other choice but to ride out the storm. But still, no one was feeling peace or napping — accept Jesus.
“Peace, be still.” I have to admit when I think about this phrase I imagine Jesus saying it to the disciples. A stern instruction to sit down and chill out. But that is not what it is at all! In Mark chapter 4, the disciples wake the napping Jesus telling him of their dire weather situation and he directs the command at the elements. Immediately the wind and waves obey him.
Often, I feel guilty about my instinct to hussle, as if my efforts to problem solve are wrong—unholy. But I’m reminded in this story that doing our part isn’t wrong. We have been given skill and a responsibility and it’s imperative to follow through.
Jesus’s ability to nap in the storm is almost comical. I struggle to sleep in my very comfortable bed in the middle of my proverbial storm, and I’m not being pelted with rain or being tossed by huge waves. Why did he sleep? Was he being irresponsible? Leaning into this question, I’m reminded that he wasn’t a fisherman. His profession was not on the water. Maybe he was respectfully staying out of the way!
In times of trouble I read Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” But, the reality is, I do feel anxious! It’s not hard to ask, or even beg the Lord for help, but what feels impossible is the peace part. When our adrenaline is pumping and our hussle runs out, it’s very hard to be still and at peace.
So, how did Jesus sleep? Where did he find the power to rest in the storm? I think the answer is found in the previous verse. Four words that explain why we can let go of anxiety and panic, Philippians 4:5 says, ”The Lord is near.” Jesus was always aware of the presence of his Father. The total power and sufficiency of the Lord was present.
What I am discovering is that peace, like joy, isn’t about the circumstance. Peace is about faith in the presence and power of the Lord. Jesus was with his disciples in the storm, yet it didn’t stop raging until he commanded. We can rest knowing the truth that the Lord is present and at work, even if we can’t see the progress. He is faithful. He is more powerful than the elements. He is near, therefore I can do what I am able to keep the boat afloat and clear of water and be at peace knowing even if the storm still rages the elements must obey.