Mark 4:35-41, Pentecost 3B, "Stilling the Storm"

“Stilling the Storm” is a sermon interpretation of Mark 4:35-41.
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The disciples were afraid. They were experienced fishermen who weren’t easily frightened by storms but this storm was nasty enough to make them afraid. They grabbed Jesus’ shirt and shouted, “Jesus, wake up.” They spoke that classic line from Biblical literature when they said, “Don’t you care? Don’t you care that we are perishing in this storm?” was their accusation against him.

That question, “Don’t you care that we are perishing in the storm?” has echoed down through the centuries.

Jesus woke up and said to the storm, “Be quiet. Be still.” As if he were casting out a demon. Like when Jesus cast out demons from people, he had said, “Be quiet. Be still,” and Jesus quieted the storm inside of people. But now Jesus was quieting the storm on the lake. Suddenly, it was very calm and Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “Why are you so afraid? Why are you so afraid of the storms of life? Don’t you have faith? Don’t you trust that I am with you during the storms of life? Where is your faith?”

And Jesus’ question as also echoed down through the centuries, “Why do you have so little faith in the midst of the storms of life?”

And the disciples became quiet because they had not seen anything like this before. That somebody controlled the winds and the waves. They believed that he was the Son of God.

This is a story which is rich with meaning. There are so many ways that this story applies to us. There is so much truth that can be unlocked in this little miracle story. Where to begin?

This story for today is an invitation for us to trust God. To trust God not merely when life is good, when we have plenty of health, cash and family around. But to trust God in the midst of the storms of life. The disciples did not realize that the power and presence of God was with them during their storm.  They could have simply trusted God, trusted that God was with them.

Life as we know it is filled with storms. We now have radar technology that can track storms all over the earth, the hurricanes, the tornadoes, thunderstorms, tsunamis. Those bright digital images warn us of hot spots, storm centers, destructive winds and hail, blizzards, hazardous conditions.
In this text, we are invited to trust God, especially during our own personal storms of life. The storms are part of your life and mine. Cancer, Heart attacks, Sudden unemployment, Marriages falling apart. Storm centers are right here in our own back yard.

A few weeks ago, Sandy was at a congregational picnic. She went to see a doctor. Pancreatic cancer. It was like a sudden squall hit her life and actually destroyed her in weeks.

Or when Sharon called about her son in law, young, forty years old, attorney, died on the spot with a heart attack, leaving his wife and three young kids. 

Recently, there was a car accident and one of your loved ones was killed instantly.

We live in a storm center and the storms strike so suddenly, storms squalling at the very heart of all our lives.

In the midst of all the storms of life, when the powers of Satan are all around us, our intuitive instinct is to be afraid. It is to have a panic attack. It is to ask God, “Don’t you care?” Or to say, “God, are you there at all? Are you sleeping on the job?”

Into those situations, Jesus asks a profound question, “Why are you afraid?” “Why aren’t you trusting?” “Why are you so afraid of the storms of life?”

Is there ever going to be a time in life where there are not storms? Is life created in such a way that you and I are to be immune and insulated from the storms of life?

Dr. Rogness, former President of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, wrote several books but one of his most famous devotional books is entitled, HE WAS ONLY TWENTY FOUR. When his son, Paul, who was only twenty four, the Oxford scholar, his oldest boy, came back from England and got off the bus in Minneapolis, he was hit by a car and killed instantly. Dr. Rogness wrote this devotional called, HE WAS ONLY TWENTY FOUR. He wrote, “Life doesn’t begin when you are old. My son was only twenty four and he was living life to the fullest.”

In that book, Dr. Rogness also had a chapter called STORM CENTERS. He wrotethe following words, “You and I are built for storms. We are not built for cozy, safe little harbors. The Lord is with us. With him, we have the kind of craft that can weather any storm. In fact, we should head out for the storms. One of the great perils that faces the church in our day is that we will steer people out of the storm centers. We are not to anchor our lives in some sheltered cove and let the storm tossed world go by. The Lord’s call is not like that. Not to an easier task but a greater cause. Not to peace but to battle. Not to a cozy harbor but to the sea of storms. We are not built for safe harbors. We are built for storms.”

Dr. Rogness’ words are true: We are built for storms.

Rev. Edward Markquart’s sermon was edited by MD