Where Do We Find God’s Calm in Life’s Storm?
Mark chose his words very carefully when he wrote his gospel. We don’t exactly know his process, but we know that Mark didn’t take dictation, nor watch Jesus and write a biography. Mark probably never met Jesus. We think Mark heard many stories about Jesus from Peter, a fisherman who may not have been able to write. Then he looked at the fiddling Nero’s persecution and chose just the right words to give hope.
Here’s what Mark saw in Rome. Nero had Christians dressed in wild animal skins and torn to pieces by dogs, or they were set on a stand to be lit as human torches for his gardens. Nero instigated the public to call believers, according to Roman historian Tacitus, “notoriously depraved, Christians.” So Mark likened their waves of persecution to the lake’s storm. In what words could the persecuted find God’s calm in their storm?
In what words do we find God’s calm in our storms? There are personal storms related to money today. The perfect storm of the average American debt (George Will sets it at 141% of debt to earnings), plus the housing crisis is sending us into recession.
Or for some there may be a church crisis: with a search for a new Minister of Music will all the current choirs continue? Will a contemporary service be forced upon us? Yes and no. Yes, current choirs will continue; no, a contemporary service will not be rushed into once a new person is hired, but there will be a process to discern God’s will regarding how best to begin a contemporary service. Waves of change.
Or for others there may be national crisis: is it better to elect John McCain to maintain troop strength in Iraq, or is it better to elect Hillobama to draw down our troops?
Like the early Roman Christians we’re all in that boat, but Jesus is snoring:
What words best describe our storm to God and what words does Jesus use back?
Let’s take that in parts: what words best describe our storm to God? This implies a golden nugget of truth. Our usual response to life’s storms is to complain to others. The Bible everywhere condemns complaining to others. Partially because the process of moaning to friends gets our minds more deeply stuck in the post-storm mud. Instead the Spirit lifts up the idea of complaining to God. The most common types of Psalms, fully 1/3, or about 50, are laments. For there is something about whining to God that helps us see Jesus with us. LORD, do you care?! Jesus woke up. For us, we wake up to God
Mark is telling his lion-bait friends and us today to speak our fears to Jesus, and then what happens? Jesus stands up and speaks words of faith: Silence! Be still! And the winds and the waves obey. All through Scripture God teaches us that words have power: the whole world was created by words, Let there be… and there was… In the same way, after complaining to God, there’s great power to speak words of faith: Peace..!
The fire had destroyed millions of dollars worth of Marv’s factory in 1984. It was one of the worst days of his life. So he gathered his management team in the basement of a local Zeeland, MI restaurant with a grief counselor. The counselor helped them process their feelings, in essence, their complaints to God. But finally Marv had had enough of the crying over spilled milk. He stood up, took control, and said, Enough already. Now Smith I want you to call the insurance. Jones, you call our competitors to ask for factory space. Billings, you get a crew to… We’re gonna make it! And they did. So in your storm: speak your fears to God and your faith in God, and you’ll find peace, Amen.
Reverend Todd Buurstra
Pastor of Worship and Witness
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