The Gospels
Comments 23

The Secret to Sleeping through Storms: Without Faith lies Fear; Within Faith stands Fortitude

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“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full… And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:37, 40

The well-known account of Jesus calming a storm on The Sea of Galilee provides great insight for exercising faith in difficult situations. We would like to examine one of these lessons: Faith prevails over logic/reason.

In the passage (Mark 4:35-41), a powerful storm comes upon Jesus and His disciples as they sail across The Sea of Galilee. Eventually, the fearsome wind and waves generated by the storm overwhelm the disciples who had desperately been trying to bail water from the boat, and the boat is now on the verge of sinking. The desperate disciples awake Jesus, who, astonishingly, had been sleeping through the whole event. Jesus awakes, stops the storm and then, by asking two intriguing questions, uses the situation to teach them and us about faith.

“Why are ye so fearful?”

The answer to Jesus’ first question, “Why are ye so fearful?”, seems painfully obvious. The disciples had been battling a dreadful storm. They could feel the power of the winds as they strained against its force. They could feel the boat lurching luridly as wave after wave pounded its hull. They had been drenched by the water pouring into the boat and, after a prolonged but ultimately futile fight to keep the water out, the boat was now full and sinking.

By a logical evaluation of the sensory inputs available, they were on the brink of death. This was the reason they were fearful! Indeed, who wouldn’t be fearful in such condition?!?!

But, that was just the point Jesus wanted them and us to see. The reason for their fear was that their assessment of their situation was based on logic, not faith… and that was the problem! When we face difficult circumstances such as the loss of a job (or jobs), or the death of a child, or a terminal disease rational/logical assessment can only produce fear: because all we have is physical information and human logic.

Therefore, Jesus is telling us that the way out of fear is to stop relying on our limited senses and limited thinking. There is more to the storm than we can see or understand. The essence of this principle is captured in the following verse

“Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” ~ Proverbs 20:24

Many things happen in our lives that we will never be able to explain or understand because God is orchestrating the events of our lives “behind the scenes” (e.g., Job 1-2). Moreover, we cannot detect God physically (through our senses) and we cannot comprehend His plans.

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” ~ John 4:23-24

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

Therefore, since we cannot rely on our perception or our reasoning we must turn to something else that is more reliable if we are going to be able to remain calm in the midst of turmoil, i.e., to find rest during the storms of life we must rely on God’s knowledge instead of our own.

“How is it that ye have no faith?”

In Jesus’ second question, He points us to the key to remaining tranquil in a tempest, and that key is Faith. The disciples had exercised their senses they knew the situation they were in and they had exercised their reasoning and deduced that they were in imminent danger. BUT, they had yet to exercise their faith.

To be clear, Jesus wasn’t telling them to disregard the sensory information, nor was He telling them not to use their brains. Indeed, it is He who gave them both the ability to gather information and to use it rationally. Faith does not obviate reason; but, as Jesus demonstrated, Faith transcends reason.

Reason is limited by human fallibility/frailty: we can only reason to the limit of our brainpower. But, Faith reaches far beyond human frailty because Faith is of God.

  • “…think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” ~ Romans 12:3b
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is… faith~ Galatians 5:22
  • “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God~ Ephesians 2:8
  • “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” ~ Hebrews 12:2

But, how does Faith work in a storm? To understand this it is useful to note that at this point of Jesus’ ministry, it is likely that the disciples did not know yet what their ministry would be or even that Jesus would ultimately die on the cross (Mark 8:27-34). Therefore, it would not have been clear to them that God had any plans for them that they should look to beyond that point. Hence, when Jesus pointed to their need to exercise Faith, He wasn’t telling them to hold on to some future prophecy they should have remembered. Rather, Jesus was telling them to look to God.

They had used their knowledge of their present circumstances to deduce, correctly, that they were in danger, but without faith that just lead to fear. Jesus was challenging them, and us, to take what they knew about God and by exercising their faith in Him come to accept His perfect plan in every circumstance and find rest in the raging storm.

While experiencing the power of the wind, they should recall their experiences of the power of God. While being tossed about by the waves, they should remember the guiding hand of God over their lives. As the dark gloom of the storm enveloped them, they should recollect that the love of God enfolds them.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah…
…Be still, and know that I am God

Psalm 46:1-3, 10a

They had no guarantee that they would survive the storm, BUT they could be absolutely sure that God controlled the storm and controlled their lives. They could be absolutely sure that as fierce as the storm raged, God’s love for them raged even more fiercely. No storm could ever blow them out of God’s mighty hand. Whether they lived or died, God’s will remains perfect; and, in that, they could find peace instead of fear.

“The hardest part of faith is remembering that we are ALLOWED to eschew fear, in fact, we are exhorted to “fear not” over and over again! I know I tend to feel somehow obligated to be stressed or afraid when I do not know the end of a particular situation. It seems almost irresponsible to let it go and trust God. But when I remember that I am COMMANDED to live free of fear, it is much easier to reach out to God in faith and have rest within the storm.” ~ Joelle Heilemann

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  1. Pingback: Peace In Storm (via Good Devotionals) | The Christian Gazette

  2. ann says

    I don’t understand this story. I never understood it. As a matter of fact I find it irritating.
    Every attempt by others to pull spiritual insight from it has left me empty and annoyed

    • Sorry to hear that, Ann. There are also quite a few stories that i still find difficult to understand. But I encourage you not to give up or give in to frustration. Keep praying to God and I believe one day He will reveal it to you…. and when He does please come back and share your story with us; it would make a great article. 🙂

      God Bless!

    • Joshua says

      Hey Ann, i know you posted this in like 2012 but I want to let you know if you ever come back to this, what I got out of it. Maybe it might help.. maybe. Recently I been going through alot (I think) like consistently.. like really consistent!!! U kno the saying “it’s always something” phase. It’s seriously ridiculous how much stuff has happened to me lol I have to laugh at it at times. Through all the things that caused me to act stressful in many storms and depressed… I overcame it by knowing God sees my situation, sees my efforts to do better, he hears the sincere in my heart when I pray… I don’t only read the word I practice it in my life…even though I might error and mess up at times.. but I don’t give up practicing applying his word. I do these things through my storms, with me having faith like a champion suppose to towards The Almighty Father that he will bless me. *Faith* is living by it but not by sight. It’s the supernatural powers of God! Ha ha yea!! If you can see pass of what you see in the physical, u can be the calm eye of the storm by believing God wholeheartedly he will diminish your storms. Great Faith comes great response…. Hope it help in some way. If this didn’t help.. ask God for revelation of the scriptures… And most definitely it will happen that instantly!!

    • Rev. Myra Gummersheimer says

      this story has been one of the most helpful encouraging stories in the Bible. Over the years I found myself growing in this story. I didn’t get it all at first, but as I grew in faith I grew in the principle of this story. Whenever life happened to me, and I mean hard. I was like the Apostil’s in the boat I Panic. I went straight to the worse. I worried needlessly and at times made my self unwell. In this story I am taught confidence’s in my faith in Jesus. When I started to flow in the that assurance I developed peace and that peace began to flow in every area of my life. So every time when I’m hit with difficulties, I learned to let go and let God. I learned that when life hits hard and I’m in the eye of the storms, and the eye is the worst of the storms, I don’t have to panic. I look to the Creator of everything and even though it appears tuff, I have always made it through, and most people didn’t even know I was in that storm.
      If you are seeking it will come to you.

  3. I am currently going through a spiritual test.
    It is scary, and I am terrified.
    I was in the car today, and I heard a preacher teach this very lesson. I came home and did some research on it, finding your site.
    Thank you for your insight.
    Thank you for your reminder.
    Lately, the Spirit has been reminding me that I am to move on Faith NOT fear.
    And so, I do as I am commanded and say: Lord, I trust YOU!
    It seems God is sleeping, just like He was on that boat – The Spirit tells me to curl up next to Him and go to sleep to! It is difficult, but I must do as, you have reminded us, I am commanded. To exercise my Faith. So, I thank you for this wonderful teaching.
    God Bless You.
    Your Sister in Christ,

    • Hi sister Lori,

      Thanks for sharing: though you are not through it yet, that is a great testimony. Storms are scary, but sometimes even admitting/recognizing our fear is difficult. Perhaps most challenging, however, is responding in obedience to God’s commands; and it is inspiring to see you are responding to that challenge. We pray God will give you grace and grow your faith as you “curl up next to Him” and find true rest.

      May God continue to Bless you!

    • Lori , I was in the war in Iraq and had to use my Faith each hour of each day for the tour of duty, never lost and soldier and never received any wounds but I sure used up all my faith and the end of each mission, but He gave me a new bath of faith each mission I went on, and each time we came back safe, even after making contact with the enemy, thanks for a great message,
      God bless

  4. Gbenga says

    wonderful article i have been bless.I am preaching in church tommorrow and have been asking God what hecwould want me to tell is people and He said “tell them to fear not because jesus is in the boat,searching through the internet i was lead to this arcticle and i tell you have been like faith coming alive again thanks and God bless

    • May God be praised, Gbenga. I am so humbled and honored that you would find the article useful.

      My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will give you the right words to speak, and prepare the hearts of the congregation to receive them: So that God is glorified and many are saved and/or sanctified thereby.

      God Bless you, my brother.

  5. Favoured one says

    I received a revelation this morning,that God is in control of the boat,then i thought let me open the scriptures to see what God is directing me to read,then i was directed to this page,thank you very much,in the midst of my storm God is there,He in control of the boat.The storm was meant for the disciples to see what God is capable of, i shall come out of the storm with more faith,as for now,i’ll celebrate through my storm and count it all joy!!

  6. Walt says

    Thank you for your reflection on this subject. Fear. I am preaching this Sunday on the very same subject. I love this story of the boat, the storm and the reaction of the disciples to Jesus’ command to be still in the mist of the storm. Thank you for posting. Blessings

    • You are most welcome Walt. All to the greater glory of God. We pray that God will speak mightily through your sermon Sunday; that many will be encouraged and many will be saved.


  7. ama says

    God bless very much . I know and understands the promises of God but my faith was wavering last night. I feel much better after reading this ..
    God bless you

    • You are very welcome, Maeghan (Ama). I pray God will continue to grow and strengthen you faith as well as mine.

      Please keep this ministry in your prayers.

      God Bless.

  8. When I first become a christian I did not know what to do or how to do anything to remain a christian, so I started asking people that had been a christian for a long time, I could not get a answer that would help me because I knew I was not going back to the life of sin, I would read the bible but could not understand it, I kept praying day in and day out, and one day the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a still small voice and said for me to ask God for what I wanted and He would give it to me,This is the short version of my story I would take my bible before I would study it or just read it and I would pray the prayer, “Father in heaven please give me the understanding to on how to read your would help me to know what to say and what do in Jesus name” and I would start reading I first ask Him for understanding His word,second for a heart of love, third the gift of Faith, I did that each day until His spirit gave me everything I ask for, Understanding is a gift, Love is a gift, and Faith is a gift,after I received those I was on the way, One must have Faith in God and His word before the storm comes and when the storm comes one will be ready to stand no matter how bad the storm gets, I don’t know if the same way will help whomever is reading this or not but it work for me, and today I can I know how to ask for whatever I need and want within the will of God and he will give it to me, John said in the book of Rev ” I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day ” Last but not lease, I must be in the spirit to understand the word of God, but because teachers today of the gospel are telling us what we need to do to be a christian but not telling how to do it, that way we will all be doing the same thing to get to the same place. God bless all that read this, Thanks

  9. DAK RABBI says

    we walk by Faith not by Sight.
    The christian walk is full of ups and downs which are unpredictable but for you to overcome such uncertainties and challenges it takes a greater faith in God.
    Never look at the situations around you but rather look at the redemption of God behind the situation. l repeat we walk by faith not by sight. God bless you pastor for such revelations to encourage us that the fact that Christ is asleep does not mean He is deaf or not aware of your situation.

    • Hi DAK,

      Thank you for sharing your insights and for your encouraging words. May God continue to grow our faith.

      God Bless you.

  10. pastor Tamarataria Dontus says

    I know how faith move, its faster than electric current . thanks for your sermon, always post to me 2RU my mail.

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