By Jamin Roller
“Dad, help! I’m falling!”
My three-year-old was climbing on a friend’s play set a few weeks ago and got a little too brave on the monkey bars. As she started losing her grip, she got scared and knowing I was close by, yelled out for help. This happens often between us. She is my child who is all adventure, eager to risk, willing to push the limits of wherever her shoeless feet will take her. Which means I am often asked to come to the rescue when the limit-pushing, risk-taking adventure isn’t what she expected. Like being stuck in the middle of monkey bars.
It’s in those moments that her belief about me is most visible. Fear has a way of doing that. When she needs help, who I am as her dad, protector, and occasional rescuer comes out in her simple cry, “Dad, help!” Her words in her fear are a window into what she believes about me.
We see something similar going on with the disciples in today’s reading. Up to this point, they had heard Jesus teach and seen Jesus perform miracles, but there is something about being on the sea in the middle of a storm that draws out their most honest beliefs about Jesus. Their words in their fear are a window into what they believe about Him.
“Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” (Mark 4:38).
“Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30).
Jesus meets those cries with questions.
“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
He is less concerned with their response to the storm and more concerned with their response to Him. He found their belief lacking. They did not respond like they were in the boat with the One who controls the wind and the storm.
It would be easy to read these passages and feel a bit defeated. Fear is a regular part of my life and often it’s in response to circumstances much less dire than life-threatening storms. Like the disciples, our fear can reveal that our actual theology is different from our stated theology.
But the point of the passage is not to shame the disciples in their fear and it doesn’t end in a cold rebuke from Jesus. He responds with questions that invite, not conclusions that condemn. He offers assurance, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (v.27). The story ends with Jesus receiving their worship (v.33).
All of these details add up to a Savior who graciously meets us in our fear, reminds us who He is, and draws us deeper into the truths about Him that are often hard to believe. What a freeing truth that the One who controls the wind and the storm not only cares about our fear, but also cares that we grow in our confidence in who He is and how much He loves us.