When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
A year ago, Covid was getting more and more scary, and there was talk of lockdown. Then, suddenly, on Monday 23rd March, it came. You must stay at home. And then the storm began in earnest.
Just under a year on from that, I was reading a commentary on this passage and about the cushion. So often we focus on the storm, or the fact that Jesus is asleep and that it feels like he has abandoned us to cope as best we can.
The disciples are terrified. They’re fishermen, they’ve known Lake Galilee all their lives, and they know boats. But they also know how vicious those storms can be, and I imagine that they will have known people from their communities who got caught in such storms and never came home again. So their fears are not unfounded. They know exactly what kind of danger they’re in.
I wonder, did any of us really know, back in March 2020, just how bad this was going to get? Some among the medical profession, especially epidemiologists, probably had an inkling. And we’re still not out of the storm yet. There will be fallout at all levels and in so many areas as we try to work out how to rebuild our lives and businesses.
Back to the cushion. Jesus finds rest and softness. Even in the midst of chaos and danger, he finds comfort and time to renew himself in rest. I wonder, is that what Jesus offers to us too? He doesn’t promise to remove the storms of life from us. But he does offer comfort and rest for our souls. He does journey along with us – he’s in the boat too, tossed by the waves.
As in so many gospel stories, Jesus does not step in until he is asked to. We have to ask for help, we have to articulate what it is we want. Understandably in this story the disciples are angry he doesn’t see the situation and sort it out. Angry that he can find rest when they are frightened of drowning. But as soon as he is asked, Jesus instantly brings calm and peace. And they are stunned.
I wonder, if we ask Jesus to still the storm for us, will the wind and waves cease? Or will it in fact be our fear that subsides, and we find that despite the storm, we can rest on a cushion in the boat, safe in the knowledge that somehow we will get through this.
It may not be as we expect. It may not be as we might wish. But we will get through. And our inner peace will be strong, knowing Jesus is with us in the midst of the wind and the waves that surround us. We may get very wet. But we will not drown.