What is a tough, stretching, unrelenting, even painful experience for which you have few solutions or in which you feel at the end of yourself? Might it relate to the health of an aging parent? A prodigal child? A besetting sin issue in your life? How about a marriage that is not ideal, or a pattern of anxiety that always seems to win the day? Does Jesus not care?
An Invitation to Believe
In 1 Peter 5:7 the erstwhile Apostle Peter invites us to believe God cares–really cares–about us. Here is what he writes: “[cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Hang tightly to that word care.
It is no secret Peter is the primary source behind the historical narrative which is Mark’s gospel account. Is it possible when Peter penned that verse in 1 Peter 5 he felt the sting of waves and wind, heard the shouts of fearful fishermen, and saw the skies clear of their anger? Consider this moment from Mark’s pen:
On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”Mark 4:35-38
Here the word care, same as in 1 Peter 5:7, is put forward with accusation: Jesus, do you not care about us? Do you not care we are about to drown?
The Sea of Galilee was notorious for its storms. In the face of fierce, unrelenting wind and mounting waves, Peter and the other disciples, many of whom were rough-hewn sailors and fishermen, no doubt worked to trim the sails, scoop out water, wrestle the rudder, and apply their pedigreed capacities as men of the sea. Yet none of it worked.
None of it.
They remained helpless, they grew afraid, they became hopeless, and then accusatory. Do you not care? Indeed, D.E. Hiebert writes, “It was a cry of distrust, but one often matched by believers today in circumstances when they feel that the Lord has forsaken them.”
Does Jesus not care? But looking to Jesus a handful of vital truths serves us well.
Four Vital Truths
Before embarking across the water he told them, according to Mark 4:35, “Let us go across to the other side.” As the Great I AM Jesus knew, providentially, there would be difficulty, but getting to the other side was always–always–his expectation.
Mark 4:36 underscores that Jesus was with them: they took him. In the midst of the unfolding drama he was present, right there among them.
Mark 4:38, detailing that Jesus was asleep in the stern, convinces us Jesus was completely at peace. He was not in any way rattled by the developing crisis.
When all was said and done, Jesus displayed total authority over the elements, however challenging or seemingly unsurmountable their rage might have been. Note Mark 4:39: “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Now, the response of the disciples to this display of care? Mark 4:41 tells us. “And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?'”
The Power of Even
Amy Carmichael, the great missionary to India, once penned, “Our Lord–yours and mine–can command even the most difficult, unruly thing that seems it will never be commanded. Let the word ‘even’ (even the wind and the sea) be a comfort to you.”
Even my anxiety. Even that rebellious child. Even that ornery parent. Even my marriage. Even this besetting sin and related shame. Even my finances.
What is Not Meant
But does Jesus not care? Consider the following:
Getting to the other side does not mean there will not be challenges.
It does not mean there will not be experiences of God’s silence.
Getting to the other side does not mean there will not be failure.
It does not mean there will not be scars: rope burns, splinters, bruises, tensions, exhaustion.
Fear and Accusation
Now pay attention to Jesus’ words in Mark 4:40, right after he calmed the elements and before the disciples’ fearful question. “He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still not faith?'”
Note that his question was not, “Why did you cry out?” The storm demanded some meaningful, authentic response on their part. The question was, “Why are you so afraid?”
Fear and accusation. We’re terrified. We’re drowning. We need help, and you don’t seem to care!
The Caring Heart of Jesus
Yet know the caring heart of Jesus, whose actions seemingly say:
I will get you there, it just may not be like you wish.
I will get you there, and you will most likely be a changed person because of it.
I will be with you every step of the way. My silence need not imply absence or lack of interest. Indeed, it may suggest complete command and total peace.
At the necessary moment I will act according to the need. Peace! Be still!
So Peter’s words from 1 Peter 5:6-7:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
“They came to the other side of the sea” (Mark 5:1).