I’ve been shaken a bit lately.
It’s because of my job. I came to work at a place that I really loved, went to work for a guy that I still consider one of the greatest leaders I know. I felt valued. I felt important in that place. I knew what to do to be great in my job, and I did it with a full heart, to the absolute best of my ability.
Fast forward a few months. The great leader got a great job, a promotion in another place. He earned it. He was very much up to the task, and it gave him a chance to stretch his wings, really make a difference.
I didn’t follow him. He was replaced with another leader who, it is fair to say, is the polar opposite. Ruling with fear. Communicating poorly. Chastising those who fail to understand. Forgetting directives. Threatening. Fear has come to visit me too often these days, mainly the fear that I’ll be labeled a failure at something I never had the ghost of a chance to succeed in.
It’s not a good feeling.
I’ve done a few things. First, I’ve prayed for the new leader. Not enough, but I have. It’s difficult to pray for someone you think is really out to get you, but I’ve done it. I’m sticking with that. But I’m also looking for comfort.
Luckily, I have Matthew 8.
The Savior who sleeps
Matthew 8:23-27 is an interesting story. Jesus had been in a real healing marathon, and he wanted to get away for a bit. He gets in a boat, and the disciples follow. Then, this:
Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
It’s hard to move past this without doing a double-take. Jesus was actually sleeping through a storm in a boat. How? I can’t imagine. You’d think that the “waves sweeping over the boat” thing would have woken him. The thunder, lightning, rain… any of that. But it doesn’t. He’s asleep, so asleep that the disciples have to wake him. “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
There’s no list of who was there, but a lot of the disciples were fishermen. They’d probably been in storms before, they knew how to handle themselves. But this… this was different. These guys were scared. They thought they were going to die.
That’s bad storm.
It’s interesting how Jesus responds.
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
He scolds them. Says they have little faith. Asks them why they’re afraid. It seems like an unfair question, doesn’t it? If the storm was bad enough to shake experienced seafarers, what right does a carpenter have to tell them where to be scared?
I’ll tell you why I think that was: because they didn’t realize who was with them.
pain and preservation
It’s difficult to see past pain when you’re in it. Impossible, sometimes. Pain and suffering are so close, they monopolize our senses. We can’t think of anything else.
We’re ruled by fear. I’m ruled by fear. Right now, in the place I feel myself stuck, I’m ruled by fear.
Because we do not realize who is with us.
I think Jesus scolded the disciples because they thought a storm was going to kill them all, and that brought into question their vision of him. If he was the Son of God, there to bring about the salvation of the world, would God Almighty really allow him to drown in a lake, killed by rain? Would his mission be cut short by weather?
It’s also the reason why he was asleep. The reason why his sleeping should have brought them comfort. To trust him was to take comfort from his peace. His peace was so pervasive, it wasn’t shaken by the tyrannical urgency of their circumstances. His peace was constant, and they could participate in it.
This is available to us, no less than it was to them. In our greatest storms, Jesus still rests. It’s important to remember that he is still in the boat, putting himself right in the front lines of our pain. We may be afraid, we may be shaken. We may be broken. We need not be afraid.