It was a dark and stormy night… Sorry, I know it’s cliche, but it actually was. The little ship had set out before the storm or nighttime hit, and now everyone aboard cowered as the storm fought brutally with the sea around them, probably wishing they had never left dry land.
Well, not everyone cowered. One man at the back of the ship slept peacefully as the elements battled around them. As the storm worsened, he didn’t even stir as the cowering sailors did their best to keep the ship afloat. They could hardly believe the sleeping man hadn’t woken to help them.
Finally, at the peak of the storm, the sailors knew they couldn’t keep up the fight on their own. Clambering to the back of the ship, they shook the man awake, demanding, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
Without a word to the sailors, the man stood, strode forward and, gazing out at the tumultuous sea and sky, said gently “Peace, be still.”
As he turned back to the sailors, the waves dropped to ripples and the wind all but disappeared. In an instant, the incessant threat of death vanished.
The man took in the faces of the sailors, then asked, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”
Mark’s story of Jesus calming the storm is a well-known miracle. I think we’ve all wondered what it would have been like to see Christ soothe one of the most uncontrollable things in the world.
What I think we miss sometimes is that we see Him calm storms all the time.
Jesus Christ is active in our lives. He knows us – He knows who we are and what we can be. He experienced the same things we experience every day when He performed His essential Atonement.
And every single storm we face – both real and figurative – Christ has faced as well. He knows how to help us through.
We can learn a lot about facing storms in our life by looking at this one story. Here are a couple of things I’ve noticed:
The Disciples Fought Through the Storm
When the storm hit Christ and His disciples, they were already out on the sea. As Jesus was asleep, the disciples probably felt they had one of two choices. First, they could turn back, or second, they could keep going.
To their credit, they kept going into the storm. Whatever fear they faced, they didn’t back down from the storm entirely.
Many of these men were fishermen, experienced sailors. They knew how to sail on the sea of Galilee, so I’m sure that they made many efforts to keep the ship upright and to keep moving toward their destination.
But some storms are harder to face than others, and eventually, in spite of all of their efforts, they couldn’t conquer the storm alone.
I think we hit similar points in our lives. There are storms that we feel we can face on our own, but there are other storms that we have no chance of surviving without the help of Christ.
Whatever storm we may face in our lives, we are expected to do our part to get through the storm. We can’t just sit on our ship and cry. We need to be up and working to keep the ship afloat.
We can’t save ourselves, but we can work to stay near Christ so Christ can save us.
But… The Disciples Waited to Ask for Help
Christ’s disciples knew that they needed to fight the storm to stay alive. But they relied on their own abilities to carry them through the storm until they were on the verge of death.
It was at that point that they turned to Christ and begged for His help.
For us, it can feel more like the second verse of the song, “Master, the Tempest is Raging” when it says:
Torrents of sin and of anguish Sweep o’er my sinking soul, and I perish! I perish! Dear Master. Oh, hasten and take control!“Master, the Tempest is Raging,” Hymn 105
How often do we wait to reach out to Christ instead of turning to Him immediately? Do we fight harder and longer than we need to through our storms when simply asking for Christ’s help would calm the storm?
We may think of a lot of excuses not to turn to Christ. We might think that we can handle the storm alone. Or that the storm is our fault, so we need to be the ones to send it away. Maybe we even think that we deserve to get lost in the storm because we’ve sinned or fallen short.
We do not need to punish ourselves for being caught in a storm. Nothing we’ve done should keep us from turning to Christ when the storm becomes too much.
There is no reason to wait. Christ is there on the ship with us. And He always has been.
Christ Responded Immediately
Though Jesus slept through the storm, He was ready to respond the second His disciples asked for His help.
When the disciples woke Christ, they asked if He cared that they were about to die. After all, He’d slept in the back of the ship instead of helping them. They’d felt abandoned and afraid, not knowing if they’d survive the storm.
But Jesus was there the entire time. And had the disciples asked for His help earlier, He would have willingly responded. He’d only waited for them to ask for His help.
And when they did, His word immediately brought peace to the storm.
When we face storms in our lives, they may not pass immediately. But, when we reach out to Christ, He will bring immediate peace to help us continue in the storm.
Elder Kyle S. McKay said,
The immediate goodness of God comes to all who call upon Him with real intent and full purpose of heart. This includes those who cry out in earnest desperation, when deliverance seems so distant and suffering seems prolonged, even intensified.Elder Kyle S. McKay, “The Immediate Goodness of God,” April 2019
God never abandons us. He journeys with us and offers us His love and peace. We simply need to turn to Him and ask for help when we face the trials of life.
Every single one of us is worthy of God’s help and love. Anyone who is suffering, lonely, or afraid can turn to Him immediately for help.
I think that’s what Christ meant when He asked, “How is it that ye have no faith?” He didn’t mean that the disciples didn’t have the faith to fight the storm. He didn’t mean that they were unworthy to have asked for help.
Jesus meant that they lacked the faith to turn to Him immediately. That their faith in His immediate goodness had fallen short.
But Christ’s goodness and love have never fallen short. Christ will never fail us. And we are always welcome to turn to Him for help when we need it.