Calamity Destroys Faith, Calamity Tests Faith
Translated by Allan Liang
Mark 4:35-41 Times of difficulty expose the true condition of our hearts. In times of peace and serenity, our hearts and our faith may appear superficially to be great. We believe ourselves to have much faith, and others may too believe that our faith is strong. Yet when trials break the bubble surrounding our faith, our true faith - how small and how great it is- will surely be revealed. The disciples had already followed Jesus from some time, and had some degree of faith in him, wanting to hear and believe the gospel of heaven that Jesus spoke of. However in this passage, the amount of faith the disciples had in Jesus were, without a doubt, revealed. The disciples traveled in the boat to cross the Galilee lake, however in the middle of their journey, a storm came upon the lake and caused the waves, one after another, to beat against the boat, filling it with water and almost causing it to sink. Among the disciples, a significant number were professional fishermen, but even the fishermen, who were experienced at sea, feared as they were in the place most familiar to them, crying out: “We are drowning!”; evidently they were in great distress. In such circumstances, the unbelief of the disciples toward Jesus became evident. First, they were doubting whether Jesus cared for their safety thinking, “we are working with all of our might, yet you are there, fast asleep; do you care about us?”. Secondly, they did not believe that Jesus had the power to calm the storm thinking, “if we as professionals are utterly helpless against the storm, how much more are you!” Being awakened by his frightened disciples, Jesus rebuked the storm. In an instant, the lake of Galilee transformed from as a ferocious tiger to a gentle damsel. The disciples, beholding this sight, did not take a sigh of relief, being saved at last, but became terrified exclaiming,“who is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!” Actually, the disciples who were well versed in the old testament already had an answer in their hearts - Jesus is the Son of God, he is God, for only God has the power to command the waves and winds (see, Psalms 89:9; 107:29). Jesus also wanted his disciples to see that he truly cared about them. I am with you in the boat, and experience the storms beside you; how can you sink, how can I let you perish? The outbreak of pandemic, or other “difficult times” can expose the true condition of a Christian’s life. If we doubt and grumble against Jesus, thinking that he is indifferent to our life and death, or fear that as if Jesus does not have the power to save us; using Jesus’ own words “Do you still have no faith?”. In times of difficulty the secret to being strong and courageous is faith. This is not to say that our faith has any power in itself, but rather it is the one whom we believe in that causes us not to be shaken. True faith allows us to be under the dominion of God’s sovereign control, rather than under the bondage the pandemic. Though humans are so small before the virus, the virus is but a mere ant in the sight of God. When God commands it to stop, it will stop, and it will not dare to live for another second; where God commands it to spread, there it will spread and will dare not move by a millimeter. True faith also allows us to trust that Jesus will never forsake us, even in storms he is always with us (refer to Issiah 63:9). Not sparing even his own life for sinners, how can he not care about our lives? Let us face the pandemic with faith. Indeed we are uncertain about many things, not knowing how much longer the pandemic will persist, not knowing whether we ourselves will be infected, not knowing how many more people will be diagnosed, and how many more will pass away; but by faith, we are certain of some matters, Jesus loves us and cares for our lives; he has great power, without his permission, not even a hair will leave our scalps; he will lead us by his own infinitely wise plan, even if we are to pass through storms, Jesus will use these storms to have us clearly see his glory, and lead us as we grow (please note: it is Jesus who had his disciples cross the sea and led them into the storms). Furthermore we are convinced that, even if we are to leave the world this day,we will immediately see Jesus face to face and enjoy eternal rest. Hopefully the pandemic does not break the bubble of our faith and reveal our internal poverty; rather may it test and refine our faith so that it becomes more and more pure. (1 Peters 1:7). Please meditate in prayer: How much is your faith? What is the true condition of your life? Do you revere the Lord more than you fear the fleeting matters of this age?