What do you do when it starts raining and then it never stops?
Somebody asked me that question yesterday. I was sitting across the table as this friend poured out the details of some really difficult things that are going on in his family right now. Really difficult things that I honestly can't understand or relate to because I've never been there myself. So for that reason, I wasn't sure how to answer his question.
What do you do when things get dark and there's no light at the end of the tunnel?
Actually, let me ask the question this way, because this gets right at the heart of things: What do you do when you pray, beg, cry out for Jesus to step in and calm a storm in your life, and then you wait and wait and wait for the peace to come and it just…..doesn't?
The second this friend of mine asked me that question, the mental picture of Jesus' disciples in a boat on a lake in the middle of a storm came to mind (you can find the story in Mark 4:35-41). The story goes that they're out on the lake, it's the middle of the night, and a storm kicks up. It must have been a bad one, because they were "afraid." Several of these guys were professional fishermen, so you know they've been on a lake during a storm before. Obviously, this wasn't your typical storm.
So what would you do? Pray? Well the thing is, Jesus just happened to be physically right there in the boat with them. You'd think that would be problem solved, piece of cake, right?
I mean, that's what we (I'm talking about you and me, church people) think, right? When somebody has a storm going on in their life, we just tell them to pray and it'll all get better. Just have faith. No, just have more faith. No, come on, you're not doing it right…just believe more and Jesus will tidy things right up…
But how can you say that to a single mom who's working three jobs and still can't put food on the table and pay the bills? How do you say that to a man who's slowly wasting away from cancer and no treatment or clinical trial or, let's be honest, no amount of prayer seems to even make a dent? How do you say that to someone who's mourning losing someone they deeply loved, when they know full well that there's never any complete and total healing for a wound that deep? How do you say that to someone who wrestles with depression every single day of their life, and they're just exhausted from feeling the way they do but nothing seems to help? How do you say that to someone who lives in another corner of the world who is persecuted and who literally fears for their life because of their faith?
"Jesus will make it all better." What if He doesn't? What then?
Even if Jesus is in the boat, it's more than likely not that easy. See, this storm kicked up, and Jesus was in the boat, but in this moment, he was asleep. Snoozing right through the thunder and lightning and waves and chaos and screams of the other men in the boat. So they go and they wake him up.
"Jesus, don't you care if we drown?"
And now it's getting real. You've said those words before, I'm willing to bet. I have. "Jesus, do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you care? Don't you see what's going on down here? Aren't you going to do something?"
You know what? If you're a churchgoer, you've probably heard a pastor tell this story, and they love the next part, where Jesus tells the wind and waves to knock it off, and the storm just ends. That's cool…..I mean really, that's cool. It's incredible that Jesus is that powerful. But if you ask me, that's not even the point of the story.
Why? Because here's what I don't hear the disciples asking: "Jesus, can you do something about this storm?"
They know he can. They've already witnessed firsthand as he healed a man with a shriveled hand (Mark 3:1-6). They've already watched him heal a paralyzed man in front of a crowded house full of people (Mark 2: 1-12). Jesus even healed Simon's (one of the disciples) mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31). He healed sick and demon-possessed people in front of an entire town's worth of people (Mark 1:32-34). He cured a man with an "incurable" case of leprosy (Mark 1:40-45). And that's just in the first three chapters, right?
They knew he could calm the storm, so they weren't even asking that question.
Here's what they were asking: "Hey Jesus…..do you even care?"
That's why my friend was asking. That's the question you and I have asked. That's the question everyone asks sometime or other.
You know what? Let's be honest. Jesus may not calm your storm. It sucks to even write that, but it's true. My best friend died about 6 weeks ago after a year-long battle with cancer. For those of us who are left, for his wife and family, it's painful. It sucks. There aren't even words for it. He had more faith than most people I've ever met, but that storm wasn't calmed until he took his last breath of air in this world and took his first breath of air in heaven. And for those that he left behind, there's no sun on the horizon. It didn't happen for him, it hasn't happened for them, and it may or may not happen for you.
But here's what I do know: Storm or not, calm or not, peace or not….Jesus cares. [Tweet this] Hey, struggling single mom….Jesus cares. He does see you. He does hear you. He does love you. Sick, dying friends….Jesus cares. He sees and hears you and loves you.
Your storm may be big, it may be small. It may be a new thing or it may define the entire history of your life. The storm you're in may even be your fault, a consequence of some circumstance in your life.
Whatever it looks like, no matter how high the waves are breaking, Jesus may or may not calm the wind and the waves, but He's right there in the boat with you. [Tweet this] And no matter what happens, you're never alone.