by Pastor Dan Palomino
As I was out driving around town (something I do every day to visit hospice patients in their homes or in care facilities), I was thinking about what is on everyone’s minds right now — COVID-19. I was struck by how light traffic is and began to think about those who are out and about, those who are creating long lines and emptying shelves at the grocery stores, as well as those who remain at home because their workplaces are shut down, or they’re just fearful. Regardless of what group we may fall into, there is likely some level of anxiety in most people.
The thought that came to mind and that I have been reminding myself of here and there is, “We’re all in the same boat.” I’m not sure that’s very comforting, though. Yes, I’m not alone in this and you’re not alone in this, but being in this particular “same boat” is the reason WHY our sense of normalcy has been abandoned in an effort to slow this thing down.
What IS comforting to know is that, while we are in the same boat together, Jesus is in the boat with us. This brings to mind the story in Mark 4 when the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee at the behest of Jesus and a terrible storm arises in which waves are crashing into the boat and the wind and waves are rocking them to and fro (vv. 35-41). Where was Jesus during all this? In the back of the boat, sound asleep. The disciples were scared to death, or rather, afraid of losing their lives, and there was Jesus, fast asleep! “Teacher, we’re all gonna die! Don’t you even care?!” Jesus awakes and tells the storm to chill: “Peace! Be still!” And there was a great calm. You can almost feel their sense of relief.
Of course, it’s amazing that Jesus tells the storm to stop storming…and it does! But I wonder, how would the story have played out if the disciples let Jesus remain asleep? What would have happened? Would they have all died in the storm? Would Jesus have awakened on his own to quell the storm? Would they have ridden out the storm and be safely delivered to the other side of the sea?
It seems that Jesus would have wanted them to tell themselves, “All will be well. We’re safe because the Lord is with us, right here in the boat. He’s so calm that he’s able to sleep through this. We’re good.” After Jesus calms the storm, he asks them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Their fear shifted from the storm to the One who calmed the storm with a word: “Peace!”
As we go through life and encounter storms, may you and I go to the Lord in prayer and be comforted and strengthened with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7), knowing that, regardless of what happens, Jesus is in our boat. The God of the universe is always with us in every storm we encounter and will, one way or another, carry us safely home.