Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fearless in the Face of a Storm?

I’ve started reading the book Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado. The first chapter speaks about the story of Jesus and the Disciples in the boat when a storm comes.

To tell the truth, Jesus’ reaction bothers me a little bit. When the storm comes, and they wake him up, he rebukes them, saying “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” (MT 8:26). Lucado says that the word used for storm is seismos. That words is probably better for our understanding of what is happening than storm. Seismos – not just a thunderstorm, but a huge, terrible storm. The boat is being swamped; this is deadly. Fear is a reasonable reaction.

Fear comes in our lives, and our hope is that we are not alone. God is with us. So, they wake Jesus up. I don’t think that’s a wrong reaction, either. Fear can lead us to the good reaction of reaching for God.

I also don’t think the disciples can expect that their close association with Jesus is going to protect them from the storm. Jesus isn’t telling them – don’t be afraid, nothing is going to happen to you.

So why rebuke them? They have a natural, healthy reaction to a deadly situation, and they reach out to Jesus.

I like Lucado’s statement about fear. Look at the question the disciples bring to Jesus when they wake him up (in Mark 4:38b) “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Lucado says, “Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.” The disciples (in Mark) wake Jesus up and question his character. They don’t ask for help or for guidance – they question his care for them.

I wonder if that is the source of the rebuke. I wonder if he is telling them to not let fear destroy their faith.

One of the lectionary readings this week is Psalm 77. Below are verses 1-2 and verse 11:

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me. In the day of my trouble, I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old.
Lucado calls it “spiritual amnesia.” He says fear “dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is.” Elijah, who had witnessed the greatness of God, has spiritual amnesia in the wilderness (last week’s lectionary reading). Our faith in God is strengthened by our memory of what he has done in our lives. Fear can erode that faith.

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