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Faith and Fear

In Mark 4, we read that Jesus had been teaching the people and when the crowds became too large, He moved to a boat and spoke from there. He spoke in parables and, afterwards, explained their meaning privately to His disciples. Then, later in the day, He decided to leave the crowd behind and go in a boat with the disciples to the other side. As a storm raged and they feared that they were about to sink, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. They woke Him, assuming that He did not care. However, “He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:39-41)

How could those disciples who had been traveling with Jesus, listening to Him teach, preach, and seeing Him heal the sick, still have so little faith? The question Jesus asks them seems legitimate. The disciples asked, “Who is this, then…” We might wonder how they could ask that question. How could they doubt? How could they not be completely confident about who Jesus is? Yet, like the disciples, we all have doubts now and then. None of us has perfect faith. Each time we feel fear or worry that the next storm (actual or metaphorical) is going to turn our lives upside down, we can wonder if Jesus is asleep and oblivious to our situation. It is then that we must rely on our faith; in those moments, when we cannot see concrete evidence of Jesus working in our lives, when things seem tenuous and fraught. It is when we cannot see the fingerprints of God in our lives that we hold on to the hope we have in Jesus Christ. We are reminded of what faith is in the letter to the Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
BCP, pg. 832
The Rev. Lisa R. Neilson
Associate for Pastoral Care and Women's Ministries
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