Photo Cred: Diego Catto
Every October, our next-door neighbors display a snarling, larger-than-life werewolf figure in their yard. Last year, at 18 months old, our little boy was clearly afraid of it, but wasn’t yet able to communicate. So we weren’t surprised when, a few weeks ago, he started asking about “the wolf in the neighbor’s goh-gahge.” (He’s caught glimpses of it lurking in the back of their garage over the summer.)
My husband and I didn’t want him to feel ashamed for his fear, but we did want to reassure him using concepts he could understand. Of course, we know that the wolf isn’t real, and that it can’t move on its own, much less hurt anybody, but those facts are not obvious to a very small boy. How could we convince our son, with his limited knowledge of the world, that he had nothing to fear?
It’s hard to persuade a two-and-a-half-year-old with logical arguments. We’ve reminded him that the wolf just stands in the garage because he can’t move. This has led to questions about what else the wolf can’t do, from “Da wolf can’t come in the house?” to “Da wolf can’t walk around?” to (my favorite) “Da wolf can’t play with Legos?” When we patiently answer the same questions over and over again, his trust in us grows, and with it, his courage. He’s even decided what he’s going to say when the neighbors put the wolf in the yard: “You don’t scared me, wolf!” (We’re still working on verb tenses.)
I imagine that Jesus can relate to our fumbling attempts to reassure our little boy. He has infinite knowledge of the world He made. He knows what will happen to us tomorrow, next week, and ten years from now, and that nothing that comes can do us any ultimate harm. Everything He does is for our ultimate good. But our understanding of the world is limited. We can’t see the future, and we struggle to believe that our trials are good for us.
Sometimes our fears are based on prior experiences. Sometimes they spring up out of our imaginations. And sometimes, like the disciples’ fear as their boat was filling with water, our fears are so real, so immediate, that they’re impossible to deny.
Luke 8:23 tells of Jesus and his disciples caught in a dangerous windstorm as they sailed to the other side of a large lake. Luke even adds this detail: “and they were filling with water and were in danger.” The danger was real. If their boat filled with water, it would sink, and they would all drown. Every bit of knowledge the disciples possessed pointed to their imminent death.
But they were missing a key fact: Jesus made the wind and the waves. He made the disciples, too. And He loved them. Click To Tweet So He “rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm” (8:24). What He said next has always astonished me. “He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’” (8:25)
Jesus’ words seem harsh at first. How was it faithless of the disciples to believe they might drown if their boat filled with water? It seems like a reasonable conclusion to draw from their circumstances, until you remember what they have seen. In their presence, Jesus has raised a dead man to life, healed countless people of terrible diseases, and cast out demons from many others. Even more important, He has called himself the Son of Man (a term connected with the Messiah), and has declared his authority to forgive sins. After seeing all these wonders, how could the disciples forget the truth about the remarkable Man in the boat with them?
We know how, because we forget every day.
We know far more than the disciples did that stormy day. We know that their teacher Jesus is the Son of God. We know that He proved his love for them and for us by taking all our sins into his body on the cross. And we know that He conquered death forever when He took in that first breath on Easter morning.
We know of the power and love of Jesus through the writings of some of those very disciples, and we have experienced his work in our lives and his love in our hearts. But we forget that He is just as present with us as He was in that boat. We mistake lack of supernatural intervention in our circumstances as lack of guidance or care. We assume God doesn’t know what’s good for us as well as we do, because if He did, He would do it. Or we assume He must not be as powerful as He said.
The only thing that can take away our fear is our trust in who Jesus is. Just as our two-year-old son must trust that his parents are telling him the truth about the world, we must trust our loving, powerful Heavenly Father when He tells us we have nothing to fear.
Even in their confusion, the disciples were on the right track when they asked each other, “Who then is this, that He commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (8:25) Who is Jesus? The answer changes everything.
Jesus is the Son of God, the Word that brought the universe into being. His power is only matched by his love – the love that sent him to die to redeem us from our sin. Until He returns to dwell with us forever, we will have pain, trouble, and death. But as huge and immediate as they seem, compared to Jesus, they have no more power than the wolf in the neighbor’s garage.
“Where is your faith?” Jesus asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:25 NIV
Dear Jesus, Please tether our hearts to the truth of who You are. Take away our fears, and the unbelief from which they grow, and replace them with solid faith in Your power, mercy, provision, and love. We know that You won’t always remove our difficult circumstances, so we ask You to give us more of your perspective as You use our hardships to make us more like yourself. Place the hope of your return deep into our souls. Keep our hearts until that day. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.
When you are tempted to worry today, ask God right then to show you a truth about Himself that will calm your fear.