IS GOD REALLY IN CONTROL?
(Finding strength in Tragedy)
08/27/2016 Mark 4:35-41
We often hear Christians say well-worn quips such as God is in control, He is in charge. However it is easy to say these words when you yourself are not going to through trouble, right? But how would you reconcile this fact with the reality, if you are living Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in the recent flooding have lost everything? According to the American Red Cross, the catastrophic flood in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy four years ago.
This is not just one isolated event, there are floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters occurring more frequently all over the world these days. Just think about the devastation the recent earthquake of 6.2 magnitude caused in Italy. Over 280 people were killed, entire towns have been wiped out, and thousands were misplaced. When such natural, and unexpected calamities happen we wonder whether the world is spinning out of control.
At a personal level, when we are laid off a job, or are diagnosed with a terminal sickness, have lost a child due to drug overdose, are experiencing a relational conflict, or misunderstood and unfairly treated by our employer, unable to break free from a dilapidating habit. We wonder whether God really is in control and whether we can depend on him. I want to us to explore this question from God’s word, whether God is really in Control, and how we can find strength in tragedy? Mark 4:35-41
It was a typical full day of work for Jesus. He healed many sick people, cast out demons, taught his disciples about the kingdom of God and the cost of following him. When the evening came leaving the crowds behind, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side,” the disciples took Jesus as he was, got into a boat and sailed off to the other side. Pay attention here as to how did this journey begin, whose idea was it for the disciples to go to the other side in the first place? By reading the text we can tell that it was initiated and commanded by Jesus and the disciples were simply obeying Jesus’ will and were sailing in the boat as per his instructions.
Growing up some of us were taught that when we obey God’s will everything will go well, but when we don’t then things will go wrong. But how many of us know that even when we are doing God’s will, at times things can go against us? Let’s see how this journey initiated by Jesus ended up for the disciples. What lessons did they learn in the process?
The gentle breeze, and the rocking boat on the Galilean sea would be just perfect on a hot summer day for anyone to fall off to sleep. After a hectic day of intense ministry, Jesus was exhausted and went into the stern (rear end ) of the boat and laid his head on a cushion and fell off to a deep sleep. The disciples were on the front of the boat, everything seemed to be going well until all of a sudden a furious squall, occurred on the ocean threatening their very lives.
Knowing the background of the disciples one would assume, that they may have tried everything possible to bring the boat under control, but they couldn’t this time, because storm was very furious. Things were quickly getting out of control. So they went to Jesus and saw him sleeping on the cushion. The severe storm could not even disturb his sleep. Just imagine what may have gone through the minds of disciples seeing Jesus’ in deep sleep. How dare you just sleep like that when we are about drown? Why haven’t you come to rescue us? They just could not figure out how Jesus could possibly sleep in a severe storm. But does Jesus really sleep?
The scripture tells us, in Psalm 121:3-4, “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 50:15, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Some times when we go through storms, it seems as if Christ is sleeping and unconcerned about our troubles and not hearing our prayers. Coming back to our story, I assume that the disciples may have read these scriptures but when the time came they forgot the fact that when Jesus is in the boat, it may be tossed but cannot sink, so they panicked and woke Jesus up saying, “Teacher don’t you care if we drown?” It was a cry for help out of desperation. Why did Jesus wait until they were about to drown?
Let’s ponder on this question of the disciples. When we go through troubles we wish that God would step right in and deliver us from that trouble, right? The more I read the Scriptures, it appears to me that at times God would deliberately wait until the last minute before he would step in. I believe that is His way of teaching us, patience, and endurance and to cry out to him in our desperation. For example, the Israelites cried out to God for 430 years while they were in bondage in Egypt, at the end of 430 years God delivered them. (Exodus 12:40). When they were caught between the Egyptian Army and the red sea they couldn’t go any further He parted the Red Sea. The lesson here is, the Red Seas in our lives won’t part until we face it.
Under the leadership of Joshua the Israelites had to obey the lord’s directions and march seven days, and on the last day seven times and cry out to the Lord then only the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. In the New Testament, before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus waited deliberately until Lazarus was fully dead. As we are waiting for the Lord to come through in our troubled situations at times we feel like we might be drowning, just like the disciples have felt.
But one thing was going good for them, Jesus was very near to them in the boat, so they rushed to him with these words, “Teacher don’t you care if we drown? Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, “Quiet Be Still! Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. What powerful words those are, “Quiet Be still! Let’s ponder these words. Oh how desperately we need to hear those words. May be your heart is troubled like a raging sea! There may be unrest in your home, in your marriage, and certain relationship are beyond your control.
May be you are battling through a sickness that seems to be over powering you. May be you are facing a situation that seems to be drowning you. Don’t panic under these pressures, all you need to do is to come to Jesus and cast all your anxiety upon him because he cares for you. When you come to him bringing all your troubles to him he will not rebuke you, instead he will rebuke everything else that is troubling you with these words, “Quiet Be still.” Just like in our story, the winds of opposition will die down, the waves that are threatening to drown you will start to recede. The situation that seem to be beyond your control, all of a sudden becomes manageable. There will be peace and complete calmness into your chaos, fear and anxiety.
In our story, the waves and the wind recognized the power of Jesus Christ, and back tracked because they knew who he was. But the disciples have such hard time to believe in Christ even after they saw numerous miracles right in front of their own eyes. Just like us, they were stubborn to acknowledge that Jesus is indeed in control of everything including their very own lives. So Jesus turned to them and to us today and says these words, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him! Recently I had to remind my daughter not to be afraid but to trust in her heavenly father to provide finances for this fall semester. She has seen how God has helped her in the past, but this time she could not see how God could come to her aid!
We were late in providing the needed tax information to the College Board. So she was certain that she cannot go to college this semester. But as we turned in the documents, prayed and waited patiently, she got all the needed financial aid for her to go to college this semester. Just like the disciples, even after seeing all the miracles, my daughter at times lacks faith in God. Not only she but we all do struggle, when it comes to trusting in God from time to time. When things are beyond our control, we fret, panic and come under anxiety attacks.
What can we take away from this story? Firstly, remember life is full of storms, some are small, some are big and some are huge and they are the ones threaten to drown us. Secondly. Don’t rely upon your own strength to bring control to a situation that is beyond your control. Thirdly, don’t feel hesitant, to go to Jesus thinking that he may be having something more important to do than to attend to your situation. Fourthly, through your prayer you can access the power of God. Fifthly, run to Jesus, cry out and say Lord please help, don’t you care if I drown. Then you will hear the master’s words, “Quiet! Be still, then you will experience complete calmness.
In closing, here is a quotes. “No matter what you might be facing right now or what comes up in the future remember two things: God is with you and He is in control.” Joyce Meyer. I want to exhort you with these words. When you face troubles beyond your control, don’t be afraid. Trust in God. He is truly in control not only of the whole world, but also your very own life, and the lives of your family. Though it may seem delaying, God is never late in keeping his promises. He would always come to your aide. Some of us should step aside and and let God have full control of our lives. May I leave you with these assuring words: “Now may the Lord of Peace himself give you peace at all times and every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thess 3: 16 Amen