A Loving Father
Mark 4:38: “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “ Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing.”
Dear Church Family,
Many of you are aware that six and a half months ago, I (Pastor Ben Gingrich) became a father. There are many things I can say about the experience, but one thing that stands out is this: Time moves pretty fast. It doesn’t feel too long ago that we took Owen home from the hospital. Fast forward to now, and I see him inch worming his way around our living room carpet trying to find the next thing to put in his mouth. Many of you can relate to this. Now, I’m not there yet, but I am aware that in the coming years, Stacey and I will be faced with difficult decisions. We will have decisions of discipline, and decisions of allowing our son to make mistakes and deal with the consequences of those mistakes. These decisions will not be easy and I can see myself questioning if I should step in when it’s possible I may just have to let things play out. I don’t want my son to hurt, or struggle, but I also know that growth happens as a result. It’s possible that my son may feel as though I don’t care about what is going on, but I definitely will.
This passage in Mark 4:38 is in the middle of a story that many of us have probably heard over the years; Jesus calming the storm. In this story, we see a picture of struggle. I picked verse 38 out of this story because it is something I have been fixated on over the years. We see Jesus asleep in the stern of the boat while a storm is raging and the disciples find him. They are fearful, confused, and perplexed at the fact that He is sleeping while the world around them is crashing down. The question, “Do you not care that we are perishing,” is a question that not only screams fear, but also abandonment. They feel abandoned by their leader. They feel as though Jesus doesn’t care about them in this moment. Let’s be honest, from our perspective, it is a very relevant question. It’s a question any son or daughter may feel when they don’t understand.
There are a great number of things that we all struggle with every day of our lives. The pandemic aside, many of us have had to struggle with the loss of a loved one. Many of us have struggled with loneliness, depression, financial struggles, conflict with friends and family, tragedies that seem outside of our control and many other circumstances. When we are caught in the middle of hard times, it makes sense for us in our finitude to wonder whether or not God does care. We feel as though God is out to get us, or that He doesn’t care about our circumstances. We are the child that doesn’t understand and feels as though we have been abandoned by our dad, and left out to dry.
Though the question seems relevant and appropriate to us, there is one main issue with this question. The main issue with the disciple’s question is that while they think Jesus is apathetic to their situation, Jesus is instead giving them a reason to have faith in dire circumstances. They confuse faith for apathy. As we read on, we see Jesus wake up and calm the storm like it’s no big deal and the disciples seem rather shocked at what had happened. Was this not the Jesus they had seen perform miracles already? Regardless, their fear and shock afterwards was very evident.
When we are confronted with struggle, the first thought that should go through our mind is that we have a God who is Sovereign and is in control of all circumstances. There will be many times where we won’t understand the complexities of God’s reasoning, and it seems reasonable to conclude that we may never understand them. Yet, it is also evident that God cares about our needs, and cares about our circumstances and situations (Matthew 6:26). It just so happens that He will do what He needs to do to push us in a direction of only relying on Him and nothing else. He will allow things to produce growth and a faith in Him and Him alone. This is not something to be fearful of but rather something to rejoice in.