“Immediately, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:45‒48a, NIV
Our ship left Prince Edward Island and sailed up the Gulf of St. Lawrence toward Quebec City. The waters had been relatively calm, considering we’d left Boston on the heels of Hurricane Earl. The night’s forecast: a strong gale and rain. We hadn’t interpreted “strong gale” to mean seventy mph winds and fifty-foot waves that would rock us sleepless. Perhaps that night, I experienced some of the same emotions the disciples did in their storm.
After a full day of ministry, the disciples waited in the boat for Jesus. Would the throngs of people ever leave? The moments must have felt like hours as the storm clouds gathered overhead. Imagine their readiness as Jesus gave them the green light to go on ahead of him to the other side of the lake. Serving their Master was invigorating. A few storm clouds would never dampen their spirits.
Later that evening, the storm rolled in. The disciples were vulnerable and afraid. As the waters threatened to overtake their small boat, they struggled to stay on course. Surely Jesus knew the storm was coming. Why would he send them out to face it alone? Where was Jesus when they needed him?
Mark 6 addresses the common misconception that following God assures smooth sailing. Jesus wasn’t oblivious to the storm. He sent the disciples out alone knowing they would encounter the storm. Uprooting them from their comfort zones and placing them in a situation which required extreme faith, would reveal their weaknesses, strengthen their spiritual muscles, and ultimately summon them to new depths of dependency on him. The experience would allow them to see the futility of braving life’s difficulties in their own strength.
Jesus ordained the storm, but his compassion for his disciples transcended it. Although the disciples lost sight of Jesus, he never lost sight of them. From the mountain, he watched and prayed to his Heavenly Father for their safety and at just the right moment, he intervened.
Storms come to us all—even believers. We’re not sheltered from them, but we are sheltered in them. Perhaps, you’re experiencing opposition as you strive to do God’s will? Are you straining at the oars? Can you relate to the futility of self-effort? Don’t allow storm clouds to dampen your spirits. Rest in the following truths: Jesus’s eye is always on you. His prayers continually cover you. And he will meet you in the waters of your adversity.
Rejoice! Help is on the way.