Updated: Apr 20, 2022
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26 (NIV)
Writing in front of a large window, watching stormy skies and swaying trees, I cannot help but think of this passage. Both my Bible study and Creekside are studying the Sermon on the Mount this fall. Matthew 8 happens after and details the signs and wonders that Jesus performs. In this passage, Jesus was getting away from the crowds on a boat caught in a storm. In His humanity, He is tired and asleep.
I do not know about you, but I rarely sleep through storms. I have always been jealous of those who can. Whether nature’s storms or life’s storms, the anxiety can get overwhelming for me.
For example, 2021 has not turned out to be any easier than 2020. Coworkers and I talk about the best ways to sleep with or without medications despite being tired from overtime on the nursing floors. In the last windstorm, I woke up in the middle of the night because the wind was making the whole house creak. In either case, I am not necessarily fearful for my life like the disciples in the boat were. But unlike Jesus, I was not sleeping either.
Matthew 8:26 is always a little jarring to me. Rather than calming the disciples outright, Jesus calls out their lack of faith and their fearfulness. Perhaps He was cranky; they did wake Him from much needed rest! The Message translation is a bit more forceful:
Jesus reprimanded them, “Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?”
Jesus pointed straight to their heart attitudes!
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlighted and expanded on the heart attitude and the spirit of the law rather than just the action of the law. That’s not to say that actions are not equally important; faith and action go hand in hand. But as Jesus kept saying, the heart attitude determines the thought which then determines the actions or reactions. In Matthew 8, after witnessing Jesus speaking words of authority and then signs and wonders (healing leprosy, healing a servant who is not physically present based on his master’s faith alone, etc.), the disciples still had an attitude of disbelief and fear. If they were there present with Him in the flesh, and struggled, how about me a couple millennia later? What’s my heart attitude?
I often use this passage as a checkpoint in how I am doing. Even if the previous chapters of Matthew convict me, for whatever reason this one always reminds me to really examine myself, my heart, my fears and where I am currently and honestly placing my trust. Even if Jesus called out their “little faith”, He still saved them by calming the raging wind and seas.
I ask myself sometimes, do I go to God because I have faith in Him, or because I lack faith or hope? How often do I lose rest because I do not trust? We sing “It Is Well” at Creekside, and the song’s imagery draws from this passage:
So let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and winds still know His name.
I sometimes have a hard time singing this song and meaning it. Despite this, the fact remains that Jesus has the power and authority to calm stormy seas. On that, we can rest.