Being blindsided by this coronavirus pandemic has felt like a perfect storm of turmoil. At the eye of this storm is the virus itself. As unknown and uncontrollable as it is dangerous, it is a manifestation of the sum of humanity’s greatest fear, true vulnerability.
We are all laid bare as we find ourselves completely susceptible to its potential destruction. As we find ourselves in this storm, panic is a very normal response. I’ve often heard people ask the question, “Why fear what we can’t control?” Well, we fear because we cannot control.
As darkness can be defined as the absence of light, fear can be defined as the absence of control. It’s almost as if fear is the vacuum created by control vacating space. It’s just there. It’s the natural consequence of the situation.
As we find ourselves panicking in this storm, let's consider a storm in the Bible.
In Mark, Chapter 4, Jesus and His disciples take a boat across a great lake. As the boat makes its way across the water, it meets a furious storm. The boat is almost overtaken by the waves that crash over it.
Now, Jesus’ disciples were seafaring men. At least three of them spent copious amounts of time on the water fishing for a living. It’s a given that these men understood the sea and had been through their fair share of squalls. For these reasons, their concern attested to the severity of this specific storm.
This one was particularly bad and there was nothing they could do about it. They were about to die. But, all the while, Jesus is asleep in the boat.
Imagine how incredible this scene was. The waves were consuming the boat. Jesus must have been soaked from the water entering the vessel. The boat was also being tossed about which meant that Jesus had been knocked about some as He lay on the floor. Yet He remained asleep.
The disciples wake Him up, assuming that He isn’t concerned for His own safety, much less theirs. In response, Jesus wakes up and speaks to the storm and waves and they stop. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus asks them. Terrified at what they’ve seen, they wonder about who Jesus is.
I don’t think the disciples ever expected Jesus to do anything about the storm. They just wanted to know how He could stay asleep while they all drowned. Jesus’ response answered their question. There was no fear because there was no absence of control.
Like us, the disciples' lack of control resulted in panic. The answer for them was not to act like things weren’t as bad as they were. Their salvation was found in turning to the One who was in control.
When Jesus fills the vacuum left by our control, the result is peace. It’s interesting that Mark doesn’t tell us that the disciples were terrified until Jesus calms the storm. Then, they begin to wonder who He is.
It’s almost as if Mark is communicating that their terror was the result of not knowing who Jesus was. Mark is communicating that the appropriate alternative to control is not panic. The alternative for Jesus' disciples is recognizing that He is in control.
As we face this current storm of the coronavirus pandemic, it is helpful for us to keep in mind that Jesus is in control. He’s in the storm with us and He’s not panicked at all. We may not be in control of this storm, but we know who is, and we know that He loves us.
This passage also teaches us that it is appropriate to pray for Jesus to stop this pandemic. It is safe to say that the disciples would have perished had Jesus not intervened. Likewise, we acknowledge that unless Jesus intervenes in this pandemic, it will continue to flourish and take lives.
Let us seek Jesus, full of peace and power, and implore Him to calm this storm.