Help in Times of Fearful Storms
This Sunday, we saw Jesus miraculously calming a storm (Luke 8:22-25). In our time together, we noticed it was a very powerful windstorm, almost like a hurricane—a detail that helps us understand why the disciples were so afraid of losing their lives.
By the end of the narrative, after Jesus awoke from his sleep and silenced the storm, the disciples were asked an important question: "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25). Mark's gospel gives us more detail: "Why are you so afraid?" Jesus asked, "Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:40, emphasis mine). From Jesus' words, we gather that the opposite of fear is not necessarily courage, but rather faith. And this makes sense, because the more we trust in Jesus—the Lord over the storms of life—the less we'll suffer from fear and worry. This doesn't mean we won't experience any fear, at all, but it does mean our hearts and minds will be more and more guarded by the peace of God, which is a fruit of the Spirit (Philippians 4:6-7; cf. Galatians 5:22).
This was a lesson Peter would learn. Later in his life, in Acts 12, we find King Herod arresting some of the early Christians, with the intention of persecuting them. James was put to death by the sword (Acts 12:2), but Peter remained imprisoned until after the Passover, when Herod intended to have him publicly tried and presumably executed. On the last night prior to his trial, with the early church earnestly praying for him, "Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains" (Acts 12:6, emphasis mine).
If you continue reading through Acts 12, you'll learn that Peter would be miraculously rescued from his predicament. But Peter had no idea God's deliverance was coming. All he knew was that he would likely be put to death, just as James was. It raises a question for us to meditate on: What enabled Peter, who was hours away from his trial and likely death, to be like his Master in the storm, peacefully sleeping? I would submit it was his faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, a faith that allowed him to experience the peace of God even in the darkest of circumstances. I'm sure he still experienced fear and worry to some degree, but the narrative in Acts 12 highlights his peaceful sleep at a moment when anyone else would likely experience a worry-filled, sleepless night.
This leads us to ask ourselves a similar question: What would help us "sleep" through the storms and trials in our own lives? Furthermore, what would it actually look like for us to "sleep" through those same storms?
Take a moment this week to ponder on these questions. And may we find in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Helper, the stillness and peace we seek in times of trouble.