Jesus in the Storm
It was late one night in May or June of 2020, and our church was in the process of reopening live services. We were in the middle of a big set change as we put everything back from a TV studio set-up in the auditorium, and I was tired. My wife and I were laying on our new mattress on the floor of our bedroom (we had upgraded to a king, and we were too excited to wait for the bed frame to come in to start using it). We began watching The Last Dance, and the tired set in.
I should tell you two things about me. First, when I get tired, I don’t slowly get tired. I crash like a toy helicopter suddenly losing its power high above a gravel road and plummeting to its rocky demise. I also get irritable and cranky and super not fun to be around. But that is a story for another time. Secondly, I am not—and have never been—an athlete, but I love sports documentaries. The Last Dance is now one of my favorites, and I have spent the summer convincing my 5 year old why Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time in just about any sport.
On that night, I was watching The Last Dance, totally zoned out and totally at peace—until the show ended. Right as the screen went black, the fatigue and stress flooded right back. It was the kind of tired that’s hard to sleep through.
I should stop and mention at this point that I absolutely love my job as the Discipleship Pastor at our church, and that even through 2020 and all it brought, our team made it a great experience. I love that we fought that war together. I honestly don't even see what I do as a job—it's a blast. This was just one of those busy seasons that left me a little extra exhausted.
Some would compare this level of stress and tiredness to a storm. It can be dizzying and unrelenting, and it can leave you feeling like you’re drowning. Jesus was in a storm like that a couple of times. In one story, the Bible says he and his disciples were on a boat headed across the Jordan when a huge storm appeared. The disciples were scared and thinking they were going to die, but let’s notice what Jesus was doing. Mark 4:38 says this: Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
Asleep on a cushion. They were in a literal storm, and Jesus was comfortably asleep. I love that the Bible points out Jesus' pillow. Here is why I think this is important. When we know we have the power of Jesus in us and with us, then we can be comfortable in the midst of chaos. Jesus was comfortable, and if it weren't for his disciples shouting, he could've slept right through it.
Are you in a chaotic, stormy season right now? Instead of getting stressed, maybe it's time we get some sleep. The next question would be, how? How do we get comfortable in chaos?
We will be comfortable in chaos when we realize God is stronger than our storm. Jesus knew who he was. The disciples seemed to doubt. Let's look at a few more verses. Mark 4:39-41 says When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Jesus stopped the storm. And in that moment, the disciples went from a panicked fear of drowning to a reverent fear of the power of Jesus. I don't know what you're going through, but I do know this—Jesus is stronger. If you're having trouble believing that, then just do a quick google search for stories. I promise you others have testimonies of God working out a similar situation—everything is on the internet these days. Secondly, if you have trouble believing in his power, begin with his Word. The Bible deals with everything from anxiety to healing to relationships to finances...and everything in between. For every storm there is a scripture, we just need to look for it.
I want to end with one final thought. During the quarantine I developed a habit for sleep that I've kept ever since. This will sound a little silly, but hang with me. One night I shut my eyes to pray, and I felt like I was laying on a beach (specifically the beaches along 30A in Florida because I'm basic). I don't know why I felt that that day, but something clicked in me. I realized prayer could be a peaceful conversation with God to end my day. It could be a quiet moment to meditate on God and get my mind and emotions in line with God and his Word. If you've seen me pray in person, especially at church, you wouldn't classify my prayers as quiet. But when it's just me at night, it's silent and peaceful.
As you're weathering your storm, develop some new practices. Put on a sports documentary that helps you zone out and relax (or a true crime documentary if you're one of those people, i.e my wife), get your head on a pillow, and quietly pray. Find your beach. Find Jesus. Find His strength. Jesus is in the storm with you, and he's sleeping just fine.