Jesus, do you not care?

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

by Charles Qualls

What is the most frightened you’ve ever been? I mean, if you’ve had one, the moment you thought life was about to be over. A World War II veteran once told me about landing at Saipan when he was not quite 21. Forget all the imminent danger on shore.

His landing craft was overturned by a rogue wave right as he and several others were supposed to be unloading to join the fight. He went to the bottom of the ocean floor in a few feet of water and for a moment was pinned beneath the vehicle. He was under there long enough to say to God, “Really?!! This is how it’s all going to end? Okay, Lord, if this is it then I’m ready.” 

About that time, though, another wave washed in and jostled the vehicle just enough that he could get himself loose. He got up out of the water and collected himself. He grabbed a weapon and made his way onto the beach with nothing any more fearsome awaiting him there than what he had just experienced under water.

Life sure can scare us at times.

We all have to figure out what to pay attention to and what to filter out. Who to filter out. What’s important to us, and what isn’t.

We all have our own reactions to surprise or fear. Some people panic and fly into action, while others take a beat to get their thoughts together and assess the surprise to see if it’s actually a danger. 

Some people are just more excitable than others. 

When someone is more casual about something than we would be, we often jump to the conclusion — rightly or wrongly — that they simply don’t care. Rightly or wrongly, we can get our feelings hurt that they aren’t as bent out of shape about whatever it is just like we are. 

Then, on a whole different level, there was Jesus in the boat with the disciples. Mark 4: 35-41 is our setting. Earlier in chapter 4, Jesus has just taught using some parables that are now familiar to us. A parable about a sower. One about a lamp under a bushel basket. Ones about a mysterious and fast-growing seed, then about a mustard seed.

This story follows, and it should disavow us of any delusions that the disciples had benefited so much from their master’s teaching side-bars, such that they now understood just who and what Jesus was.

A terrible storm brewed up. The disciples were convinced they were all dying. The waters threatened and tossed. This is described as a legitimate and terrifying deal. Someone had to get the Lord’s attention. We feel like we do, too, now and then. 

Once awakened, Jesus makes no reply to them. In fact, his true response is to talk the storm: “Peace, be still.” The waters grew calm. The raging storm stopped right then. It is striking that this story only now describes their fright. All the other is just obvious from what we’re reading. We infer all that. 

After Jesus stops the storm with His words, then are we actually told that they are afraid. As if the only thing more fearsome than the storm just happened right in front of them. 

Jesus had stopped it with a power that only God could have. The Greek says that the disciples were only then “phobos megos…” afraid with a great fear. They had been afraid. Like us, they asked one question. “Jesus, do you not care?!” But, the answer they got scared them even more. May have given them hope, too.

I happen to think our God can still calm the storms of our living. Maybe not always in the ways we might choose. Maybe not always on the schedule we think is pertinent: “Lord, do you not care that we are perishing?!”

Our God has power. 

We may find ourselves wondering where God is, from time to time. Like Habakkuk in the Old Testament, we may find ourselves asking “Lord, how long?” Like the Psalmist we may find ourselves asking “Why?” sometimes.

I believe that my life in Jesus Christ is the most secure place for living that it can be in a world that can cloud up and rain on us in the cruelest of ways, and at the worst of times.  Because our God has power that would probably scare us if we truly understood. Ironically, for that very same reason, this story gives us hope.

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.