Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly 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. Matthew 8:23-26.
In our text for today, Jesus poses an important question, “Why are you so afraid?” We should start with the assumption that Jesus is not asking for information here. He knows all things and all our hearts are transparent to Him. The question is not for the disciples to answer but for them to ponder.
Likewise for us. Why are we afraid?
I have been afraid of many things in my life. I have feared running out of money to support my family. I have feared a serious illness might inflict my wife or one of my children. I have feared being failed, being fired, and being victimized. I have feared the people I loved most in the world deciding not to love me back. I have even been afraid of storms. Perhaps you can relate. Most of us have been afraid of something – true?
Jesus’ question bothers me, because it seems to imply that my fear is an affront to a powerful, loving God. My fear is a declaration that He is either unwilling or unable to care for me and those I love. I may say I believe He loves me and is more than capable of taking care of me but my fear says something else.
Our fear does not reveal what we say. It reveals what we believe.
We often try to deal with our fear using a pathological approach. We excuse it in ourselves as a weakness, as a condition, almost as an illness. We prescribe reassurance for our fear and warm reminders of our good God’s love for us. Jesus’ words indicate our fear has more in common with sin than with disease. In that case our response to fear should be more in the vein of repentance than reassurance.
The issues are too complicated and our experiences too varied to lay down consistent rules in a context like this devotional. Suffice it to say here that when we find ourselves in fear, Jesus may have words of admonition for us as well as comfort. If you hear that admonishment to “fear not”, I hope you will act on it and marshal your faith to obey the Lord’s call on you.