SO CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU. AMEN. (1 Peter 5: 7)
…THEY CRIED OUT TO THE LORD IN THEIR TROUBLE, AND HE BROUGHT THEM OUT OF THEIR DISTRESS. HE STILLED THE STORM TO A WHISPER; THE WAVES … WERE HUSHED. THEY WERE GLAD WHEN IT GREW CALM, AND HE GUIDED THEM TO THEIR DESIRED HAVEN. (Psalm 107: 28 – 31)
(Jesus) GOT INTO THE BOAT AND HIS DISCIPLES FOLLOWED HIM. WITHOUT WARNING, A FURIOUS STORM CAME UP ON THE LAKE, SO THAT THE WAVES SWEPT OVER THE BOAT. BUT JESUS WAS SLEEPING. THE DISCIPLES WENT AND WOKE HIM, SAYING, “LORD, SAVE US! WE’RE GOING TO DROWN!” 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. THE MEN WERE AMAZED AND ASKED, “WHAT KIND OF MAN IS THIS? EVEN THE WINDS AND THE WAVES OBEY HIM!” (Matthew 8: 23- 27)
As I am writing this Sunday web-message, the COVID-19 death toll in our Home Farm Care Home is tragically rising. I sadly think of the familiar faces who attended our regular monthly worships and of the care-workers, relatives, the shocked population of Portree and of the Isle of Skye. Our calm and sometimes even boring lockdown suddenly exploded, anxiety turns into despair and the growing waves of this pandemic rocks the boat we all share with deadly threat. It reminds me of the biblical story of another storm, as Jesus’ disciples had to use their little faith, to ask the Lord to save them.
Matthew describes in his gospel that when the storm came up Jesus was asleep in the boat and the disciples were in panic. A number of these men were experienced fishermen who had been on the lake in storms before, but this time they were afraid because of the severity of this storm. This was one of those moments when they knew they were not in control anymore. Knowing their Old Testament, they would have known the Psalms well, including Psalm 107, that contains – in verses 23-31 – a very relevant message to this situation. The psalmist makes it clear: – God is the one who stirs the seas up into a terrifying storm, so that the sailors’ courage melts away. God is the one they cry out to in their trouble. And God is the one who stills the storm to a whisper, who hushes the waves of the sea, who brings about a great calm. This is for God to do, and God alone. Jesus was truly human; he was sleeping in the boat. It is easy to feel frightened, but with their little faith, the disciples still believed that as the Son of God, Jesus is their Saviour and they woke Him up.
Jesus calmed the storm to encourage his disciples’ faith. The first thing He did in response to their demand was to rebuke their weak faith: – You of little faith, why are you so afraid? They were right to ask Jesus to save them, and their request shows that they had faith that He could save them. But it was their fear that betrayed the weakness of their faith. They were in panic when they came to Him, not in confidence. That was- and is – a lesson to be learned. The effect of Jesus’ powerful command was to calm the storm, but also to calm their fears. By taking care of the troubling circumstances of life, Jesus was able to take away their fears and build their faith in Him. Though there are so many things in life, – like this deadly pandemic – that threaten our lives and cause us to fear, the more we know the Lord and His power, the less we will be afraid. When Jesus calmed the storm, then, He was demonstrating that He has the power of the Almighty at His command. The disciples’ wonder at what kind of a man this was could ultimately be answered only by an understanding of the incarnation: Emmanuel = GOD WITH US.
The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ power. They had never seen anything like this. What other person can speak and have the winds and the sea obey His voice? – clearly, no one. Jesus demonstrated what God intended for us humans to be. The Son of Man, – the Messianic title of Jesus- describes Him as the authentic MAN, invested with power, humble, obedient and finally exalted.
The message is clear: there is an AUTHORITY over all Creation, who can handle the storms of our lives – even this deadly pandemic we are facing. It helps us to build our faith, our confidence in Christ. Any turning to Him in prayer is an act of faith. Jesus never rebuked His disciples for their requests. Clearly, it is the proper thing to do. The more we see the power of the Lord, both in the Bible and in our lives, the more our confidence will grow. We will always struggle with fears in this life because the world is not a safe place, not even in confronting viruses. But gradually as we learn more and more in the faith, we will become bolder and more confident in the saving presence of our Lord.
FAITH IS A PROCESS, – so we must be patient and continue to develop it. The comforting thing is that even in our fears and terrors, our weak faith can cry out to God: LORD SAVE US, and He is there for all those who believe in Him to not perish but have eternal life. Remember 1. Peter 5:7 with the encouragement: CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU.
WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged: take it to the Lord in prayer! Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness – take it to the Lord in prayer!
Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Saviour still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer! Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.
LET US PRAY:
Gracious Lord God! As we look at our families, our community, our country and the world, we come to You with the same plea, as Your disciples: LORD SAVE US! We pray for our sisters and brothers in Home Farm Care Home: be with them, protect, support, and comfort them. Be with all who wrestle with the Covid-19 virus grant help, healing, hope and above all, assure us that time will come when this pandemic will be finally defeated. Support those who work in hospitals, testing units, care homes across the country and the world. Be with our loved ones, close to us or far away. Bless our Congregation and everyone here in Portree and Skye, under the pressure and threat of being infected. Help those who are alone, disabled or overanxious. We pray for Her Majesty our Queen and her Family, our Government and Parliament, for all those who keep our country going. Be with the leaders of the world in these hard times, guide them always to make the best decisions. Be with the Christian Church Universal in all its branches, with our Church of Scotland in all its Presbyteries and Congregations, and with all who ask You, Lord God, to help, bless and guide us every day. We acknowledge our weak faith, our fear that Jesus is asleep while the gale of this virus threatens to overwhelm us. We ask for the power of Your Holy Spirit, to know and believe, that You never leave us, nor forsake us. Teach us that though we may stumble and fall, You will support us and strengthen us, faithfully seeing us through; that no trial or tribulation will be able to separate us from Your love in Christ. Renew, then, our faith, our trust, our hope, whatever life may bring and remind us that You will always be there for us, a refuge and strength in time of need. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Saviour. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER . . .
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH US ALL. AMEN.
Sandor, your Minister.