“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

by Steven Chan
14 December 2008

After Jesus had finished teaching the multitude by the sea concerning the kingdom of God, He sent the multitudes away and together with His disciples they made their way by boat to the other side of the sea. An interesting incident occurred along the way: “A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling” (Mark 4:37).

Although many of the disciples were experienced fishermen, they were nonetheless quite troubled by the intensity of the storm to such an extent that they must have feared for their lives – as evident by their statement of the distinct possibility of them perishing in that storm. So, it was not a small storm. It was a formidable storm- such that they feared that they may not survive it.

In the midst of this fear and anxiety for the well-being of their lives, it is interesting to observe what their feelings toward the Lord. In Mark 4:38 the Bible records thus: “they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Isn’t that so typical of many of us when we are in similar circumstances? When the going gets tough, it is not unusual for some to think that God does not care. The disciples accused Jesus of not caring even before they asked Him to help. They assumed that He would of His own accord do something to address their fears. And when they saw no improvement in their predicament, they then rushed to Jesus and alleged that He did not care for their well-being. To be woken up in the middle of one’s sleep is already quite a disruptive incident, and then to hear the allegation that one does not really care for one‘s fellow men is quite devastating.

Yet, when Jesus woke up, He “rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39). A great miracle had occurred in the midst of the storm. Jesus was able to calm the storm. They had not expected that miracle. The disciples had only wanted Him to show some concern for them and perhaps to help them in some way to sail through the storm. Little did they realize that He could actually do much more than they had expected. What an amazing event for them to experience.  In Mark 4: 41, the Bible noted: “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?” They stood in awe of the power of Jesus Christ.

After Jesus had calmed the storm, He turned to them and said: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40).  They had been with Jesus and had heard all His great teachings about the kingdom of God and would have also witnessed many of His miracles – in Mark 3, He had healed the man with the withered hand; “He had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him” (Mark 3:10).  Yet, they were still lacking in faith. They knew that He had power to heal but their faith had not grown to the level that would enable them to trust Him with all of their lives. They had faith that He could heal their diseases but beyond that, they were still lacking in faith in what Jesus is able to do for them – especially when faced with different types of adversities.

According to Jesus in Mark 4:40, when one is fearful for one’s life, or is afraid, that is a sign of one’s lack of faith. When one has faith in God, then fear gives way to trust confidence and hope that all will be well.

Listen to what the Lord says in Psalms 33:16 -19: “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.”

God wants us to trust Him for deliverance and not to rely on our own strength or the strength of others or in the things that we possess. God is able to do much more than we can ever imagine – just as the disciples discovered in the midst of the storm: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20, 21).  “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6).

As we read of the meltdown in the financial markets especially in the western economies and how that is spilling over to affect the real economies, resulting in loss of employment for many, we should remain ever steadfast in the knowledge that God is able to navigate this tumultuous part of our lives and to help us emerge victorious.  As our apostle Paul wrote in 2 Co 1:8-11: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” (Note: all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)