A Top Down Faith: God is With Us Through the Storms of Life

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Watch the livestream beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.

First Reading: Job 38:1-11 (NIV)
Second Reading: Acts 27:13-26 (NIV)
Gospel: Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)


  • Hymn: CW 504 “We Sing the Almighty Power of God”
  • Hymn: CW 564 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
  • Hymn: CW 501 “Evening and Morning”
  • Hymn: CW 805 “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”
  • Hymn: CW 874 “Preserve Your Word, O Savior”

Yr. B, Pentecost 5       Pastor Ryan Wolfe
Mark 4:35-41               June 23, 2024

“A short story about a great Savior”

“Where did I put it?” You look in your pockets. You look around the house. You retrace your steps and start looking in places it couldn’t possibly even fit. You ask your wife, your kids, you even look at the dog as if he could help. You know the feeling of losing something like your wallet or your keys, don’t you? For a while you stay calm, but then you start to panic. What if I can’t find it? Am I going to have to replace everything?

What is the most common thing that people lose? Jewelry? Cell phones? Glasses? Remote controls? What about faith? Have you ever lost your faith? Not that you stopped being a Christian, but, for a moment, your confidence in Christ – your trust in his love, his power, his wisdom – it shrank for a while. Maybe you were in a rough patch of life and something bad happened to you, and you panicked. And you forgot that God is on your side. Has that ever happened to you?

The account of Jesus calming the storm is recorded in three of the four gospels. But in every case, it’s super-short. Just four verses in Luke, five in Matthew, and seven here in Mark. But this short little story teaches us a great truth about our great Savior. We see how faith can be forgotten in a crisis, but found when we focus on Christ.

Jesus and his disciples were sailing across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had been teaching and was now headed off, presumably for a little time alone with his disciples. At first, everything was calm. But the Sea of Galilee is surrounded by high hills and to this day storms can come on fast. Mark describes this storm as a “Furious squall” and it must have been. Remember, most of the disciples had been fishermen their whole lives. But this storm had waves rocking the boat with such strength that it was nearly swamped. Water was crashing over the sides of the boat and the disciples were in real danger.

Isn’t this how life works in general? Just like that storm on the lake, a crisis can suddenly come up in your life out of nowhere. One moment everything is calm. And then without warning it all turns upside down. A woman goes to the clinic for a routine checkup and the doctor finds something on the x-ray that shouldn’t be there. A man goes into work one day where he’s been for the last ten years and learns that they’ve got to let him go. The farmer’s crops all come out of the ground and then the rain stops falling (or it won’t stop and floods the field), the wind tears the shingles off your house, your spouse tells you she’s not sure this is still working…You know what I mean.

A crisis can happen as suddenly in our lives as that storm came up on the sea. And too often, that’s when we panic. It’s not hard to be a calm, confident Christian when everything is going well – when you’re healthy, people love you, and you have the money you need for what you need. But what happens when no one loves you, and you don’t have the money, and you’re sick? That’s when we lose our nerve. That’s when anxiety tries to take over and we start wondering if God knows what he’s doing. When we start saying to ourselves, “What did I do wrong? Why is God letting this happen to me? Does he really care? Does he really love me as much as he says?” We panic. We doubt. We struggle. We fear.
In their panic, the disciples woke up Jesus, saying to him, “Don’t you care if we drown?” They were losing their calm and their minds and their patience, and they crossed the same line Job did.

“Don’t you even care?” That’s why Jesus responds the way he does. Jesus invites us to come to him with our every care and concern. But when the disciples came to him with accusation instead of humility, Jesus asks them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” This wasn’t their first day with Jesus. By this point, the disciples had seen him turn water into wine, cast out demons, heal the sick…but they had forgotten just how great he is. Not just a man sleeping on a boat. God himself, the Creator of all with power over all.

When you’ve been asked, “How are you doing?” have you ever said, “Fine.” But not really been fine? We’ve all done it. Maybe that’s how you feel right now. You can make things look fine on the outside, but you know to yourself that life isn’t going well right now. We put up a show for others to make ourselves feel better. Or we don’t bother them because we know they can’t really help. But this short story reminds us God is great enough to do something about our problems.

Jesus is trying to comfort us today just as he comforted those disciples. Look at what he did for them. He rebuked the wind and the raging waters. He said just three words (two in Greek) and the storm completely stopped. No more wind. No more waves. Mark tells us it became completely calm. The disciples were amazed, even terrified by what they saw. “Who is this?” they said, “even the wind and the waves obey him!” These men who had been afraid at the power of a storm now realized the power of the one in the boat with them. Maybe they were terrified in the moment but that Savior of power would bring them great peace in the future.

This wouldn’t be the last crisis for those disciples. Eventually, they would see Jesus arrested and crucified. Once again they would panic and feel hopeless and helpless. Their faith would shrink, or even fail. But then Jesus would display his power over nature again. Rising from the dead and proving to them once and for all that their faith was in the right place.

As you face whatever crisis you face in life. As you struggle and toil and wrestle with the world, never forget the great truth we find in this short part of Jesus’ life story. Your faith is in a Savior who knows your human struggles but overcomes them with is divine power. Who was tempted like us but never sinned. Who struggled like us but overcame. And he has overcome for us already the biggest crisis in our lives. He traded the sin that condemns us to hell for his own righteousness that brings us to heaven. Your faith is in the God who forgives his children of every sin. If you find yourself in the storm of life and doubt whether God really loves you, then look at this cross, this instrument of death, and remember just how far he is willing to go for you. And if you have doubts whether God is powerful enough, remember this storm that died at his command, and consider his return to life even after death.

Your faith is in Jesus Christ, who offers to you all kinds of promises in Scripture. But never a trouble-free life. He doesn’t say that you will always be healthy, and have money, or that everyone will love you. He doesn’t assure us that we will all die at a ripe old age in our sleep. What he promises is even better.

He promises to be with you always. To be there as you sit in the doctor’s office, as you do the math and wonder how you’re going to pay the bills this month, as you lie awake at night, wondering what’s the next domino to fall. And in that moment, I pray this short story will come back to you and you’ll hear Jesus say, “You’re not alone. I am with you always. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I died for you, and I will bring you through this in my time and in my way.”

These are the promises you can depend on. The promises that take away panic and anxiety and fear in the face of real problems. So go ahead and panic a little bit when you can’t find your keys and the kids have been around lately. Go ahead and lose it a bit when your wallet or your phone isn’t where you thought it would be.

But don’t ever wonder where Jesus is. And don’t get stressed out about the real things in life. Because Jesus is right beside us, in the boat, with the compassion of a brother and the power of God. Just waiting to bring his family home. God bless us in the storms. Amen.

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