I was sitting in church yesterday, lamenting the fact that my work schedule has changed and we don’t get to go to the service with our friends. Needless to say, I was only partially paying attention. This year, we are not using the Lectionary. Instead, we are doing a year long sermon series on Luke. And yesterday’s sermon was on Jesus calming the seas.
One day Jesus and his disciples boarded a boat. He said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail.
While they were sailing, he fell asleep. Gale-force winds swept down on the lake. The boat was filling up with water and they were in danger. 24 So they went and woke Jesus, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” But he got up and gave orders to the wind and the violent waves. The storm died down and it was calm.
He said to his disciples, “Where is your faith?”
Filled with awe and wonder, they said to each other, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him!” (Luke 8:22-25, CEB)
The pastor began preaching simply by saying the title of the sermon, “Jesus calms the storm.” When I heard this, I started paying attention a little bit more and my mind went to something I had read in Alister McGrath‘s book Doubting. In the book, McGrath points to several images of doubt in the Bible. One of the examples that he points to is doubt as a rough sea.
Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind. (James 1:6)
On this image of doubt, McGrath writes:
This is a very powerful image (especially for anyone who has over been violently seasick!), an image evoking a lack of stability. The sea – along with anything that happens to be floating in it – is tossed to a fro by the wind, unable to gain stability…Doubt in the Christian life is rather like permanent seasickness on a long ocean voyage. (McGrath, 57)
I’ve been reflecting on this ever since. If Jesus can calm the storms that arise on the Sea of Galilee, then Jesus can also calm the storms of doubt in our own lives!
Now it is important to keep in mind that doubt is not a lack of faith and doubt is not unbelief. As most people who have journeyed through doubt will tell you, their faith was important. McGrath writes:
Doubt often means asking questions or voicing uncertainties from the standpoint of faith. You believe – but have difficulties with that faith, or are worried about it in some way. (McGrath, 14)
Doubt is a tricky thing to overcome. As someone who has made the journey, I can attest to that! But things need to be put into perspective. Some things, like my new schedule, will not last until the Second Coming! My new schedule shall pass at some point. We need to hold fast to the promises of God and the gift of new life through Jesus Christ.
Remember, Jesus calms the storms!