In previous posts, we learned two principles pertinent to waiting on God in an escalating crisis. One, when waiting into the deep end, we are more prone to question whether God cares. Two, we are also at great risk of coming to the Lord out of fear, despite having every reason to seek Him in faith. Today, let’s pull back for a big picture view of what happened when Jesus stilled the storm. Doing so will arm us with another key principle on “The Art of Waiting on God.”
This incident on the Sea of Galilee occurs during a time of transition in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Opposition is growing and the fact that Jesus will be rejected is already baked into the cake. The need for the mobilization and training of harvest workers is now acute. So, Jesus is conducting an advanced course for the twelve that is designed to yield a greater understanding and appreciation of who He is. This is vital to their future effectiveness once He has returned to Father.
A night class was scheduled as a demonstration lab while transiting the Sea of Galilee. Both Jesus and the Father would co-teach. The Father would set up the perfect conditions for the demonstration, then Jesus would follow by putting on a convincing display. The demo would prove to the disciples a profound truth. By the end of class, they would not look at Jesus the same way!
Many commentators rightly point to Psalm 107:28–29 as an important filter through which to understand what Jesus did. According to these verses, when Jesus silenced the wind and calmed the sea, He was exercising divine prerogatives. But to fully appreciate what was going on during the class demonstration, we need to read the larger section of which these two verses are a part:
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him at the seat of the elders” (Psalm 107:23–32).
Based on Psalm 107:28-29, we rightly see Jesus’ action in stilling the storm as evidence that He is God. But, I have not yet encountered a commentator who cites Psalm 107 to affirm God’s role in setting up the demonstration. Did you note what verses 25-26 tell us about God: "For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths." God does not just still storms, He also causes them. With mere words, no less!
Some might want to ascribe this storm on the Sea of Galilee to Satanic opposition. There is some support for this view: When Jesus rebukes the storm, He speaks to it as if it is a person. But, there is nothing in the text that clearly identifies Satan or his forces as the agents behind the storm. Further, even if forces of darkness had a hand in this sea-quake, we do well to remember that Satan is never allowed to do anything unless God permits. Whether directly or indirectly, God was the one responsible for this perfect storm.
This storm had a superb purpose. It was specifically designed to take the twelve to a place beyond their considerable sailing abilities, to escort them to a “no way” moment. In that precise moment, Jesus did what only God can do, and used but words to control the weather.
The Father and Jesus were like the ultimate tag team. First the Father immersed the disciples in a situation where they were ready for the lesson. Then Jesus tapped in and delivered big time! If Father had not taken the disciples to the brink, the lesson would have had far less impact. But because they were “at their wit’s end,” the truth about Jesus was etched on their hearts.
Imagine for a moment, that this demonstration was conducted in a calm sea, or perhaps even a moderately rough sea. The lesson would not have had the same impact. But put these seasoned fisherman in the perfect storm, allow them to fear for their lives, then rescue them with a mere word from the Lord, and the lesson was breathtaking. Dire peril prepared them for awe! The disciples grew in their ability to see in Jesus someone far greater than most men’s messianic expectations of the time. They encountered “God among us” and it left them in stunned silence and profound awe.
During the course of this demonstration, the disciples perceived themselves to be at risk of perishing, but they were in no real danger. As if riding a water park flume-ride designed to “safely scare people,” they were strapped into “The Mega-Splash, a Galilean Sea-Quake Experience.” Just when they thought they were goners, Jesus spoke the way God does, and the ride was over. Only this was no mere ride. It was real – breathtakingly real. But it was also safe, because, as they could now see, God was with them.
These men were now equipped to declare something new about their Master. They joined the club (Bumper stickers and T-shirts available at the gift shop: “I survived the mega-splash!”) and could use the Psalmist’s lyrics to sing about Jesus: “O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them” (Psalm 89:8–9).
Now let’s connect the dots between the disciples’ experience and ours. There are times when we are waiting on God, desperate for Him to intervene. But things might not be bad enough, yet! God might need to turn up the heat even more, and take things from bad to worse. Do not Panic! Trust Him! You are safe! Jesus has promised “I am with you” even as the storm intensifies.
God wants you to come to Him, not in panic, but because you trust Him. So keep coming boldly in the name of Jesus to the throne of grace to make your request known. Trust God to come through precisely when His deliverance will have maximum beneficial effect on your heart.