The Sea of Galilee had sudden devastating storms due to the clash of contrasting climates in the low sea and the surrounding mountains. Its water is not very deep, making it easily stirred and thrown by wind. Neither was the disciples’ boat very large: likely less than 30 feet long and less than 8 feet wide. Hopefully this helps you get into the story.
Jesus' calming the storm can symbolize the passage from desolation to consolation. Ignatius characterizes them as either abundance or lack of faith, hope, and love. Thus Jesus’ question to the despairing disciples: “Have you still no faith?" We experience storms—depression, doubt, stress, loneliness, worry—during which we feel like Jesus is asleep on the job. But he is always in boat, beckoning us to trust him. Ignatius also has ideas of how to brave the storms and enjoy the calm. In desolation, he counsels that 1) we don’t make big choices or changes, 2) we stay committed and even intensify our prayer and discipline, 3) we remember that God always gives us help to resist temptation and despair, and 4) we persevere in patience, seeking to learn and grow through the struggle. In consolation, he advises that 1) we truly enjoy the peace and store up for seasons of struggle, 2) we consider how we will handle future storms, and 3) we reflect on previous storms to humble ourselves and remember our constant need for grace.
- Read Mark 4:35–41.
- Ask God for calm and consolation through trust that he is present in the midst of storms.
- Stand in the boat, the deck thrashing beneath your feet. Squint through the rain into the swirling darkness on every side. Hear the deafening downpour, punctured only by crash of waves against the boat, quickly filling it and rising up your leg. Hear the muffled calls of your friends, desperately scrambling to stay afloat. Watch as Jesus wakes up, stands, and speaks. Feel the fear and astonishment as the storm suddenly dissipates, leaving behind a surreal stillness.
- Marvel at Christ’s command over creation. Especially if you are experiencing dryness, distraction, or distress in your life, hear him speak directly to you: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
- Have two conversations with Jesus. First, while he is sleeping in the midst of chaos, instead of making demands, ask for patience and inner peace. What might he be teaching you? Second, after the storm has subsided, express gratitude for his grace. Throughout today, repeat and listen to his words, “Peace! Be still!”—spoken not only to the storm but to your soul.
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC