YouTube: Calming the Inner Storm
There arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:24-27
When we read a story like this, we want to ask if it is intended to show the greatness of Jesus, or if it is intended to remind us of our own power to calm storms. This is an example of what I would call a modified saying, a passage containing parts of which may have originated with Jesus but have been modified by the Gospel writer to convey the early church’s elevated characterization of him. Jesus seems surprised that his companions are cowing in fear, an indication that he expected them to do what he did. He then rebukes the storm and it subsides. The final comment is likely Matthew’s: What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?”
We all have our storms, but we don’t have the luxury of a special miracle worker around to rebuke them for us. Free of Matthew’s final question, the story indicates that Jesus is pointing to the power of the men’s faith, not himself, as the resolving force. He’s raising the question, Why don’t you bring to bear the power of your faith? Why do you have to rely on me? This reminds me of Meister Eckhart’s question that I’m paraphrasing here: What good does it do me to have a brother who is wise if I remain ignorant?
I believe Jesus was a spiritual teacher whose mission was to awaken people to their own ability. I think his focus was less on controlling weather and more on demonstrating power over the mental and emotional storms that devastate our quality of life. Your faith will not likely alter what the wind and sea are doing, but it can alter your reaction to whatever storms are raging in your life.
On several occasions, Jesus chided men of little faith, not because he was reminding them of his superiority, but because he was trying to inspire them to awaken their own power. In practice, the exercise of faith is a significant shift in attitude. We move from fear over some appearance to the strength of knowing the resolution is now coming forth.
Is your faith in the man Jesus? Is your faith in the power of the storm raging through your life now? Or, is your faith in God, the one presence and one power that is, at this very moment, bringing about the needed resolution? I think if Jesus were here, he would ask this very question.