If you look at the blog that Julie and I update on a regular basis, you know that we have had some pretty heavy news in our family. Julie’s dad, and our consequently our pastor, was diagnosed with colon cancer. This is the kind of news that can shake your core and make you question everything, but there have been some amazing signs that God is working and ministering to us even in this time.
Tom (Julie’s dad) said that he has found an even deeper faith through this because in moments of sleepless nights and anxiety, God gives him a verse or a song or hymn that comforts him and points him back to his faith in God. I have found those times myself in the past 10 days or so.
Just a quick example… Last week, I got ready to teach our weekly Bible study… the first since Julie and I found out about Tom’s cancer… and of course, I am teaching on Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4… you know the story… There’s a huge storm while the disciples and Jesus are in boat, the disciples are freaking out, and Jesus thinks this is a great time to catch a nap. The disciples wake him up and ask if he cares that they will die. Jesus gets up. Rebukes the storm. Things calm down. And he asks, “Do you still have no faith?”
I asked the question, “What would Jesus have considered faith?” I mean, didn’t the disciples run to him? Isn’t that what they were supposed to do? Isn’t that faith?
I think Jesus wanted his disciples to understand something; that faith isn’t faith until it has ridden out the storm. Sometimes we gain faith when we see miracles, but true faith comes not by seeing but by believing in spite of the circumstances.
Jesus said to Thomas after he showed himself, “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This is easier said than done for sure. Right now, I am struggling between riding out the storm with God in control and just being in a constant state of asking ‘why’. Now, faith doesn’t mean you don’t have questions… in fact, faith is faith when the questions consistently go unanswered.
When I look at the disciples actions… what would Jesus have had the disciples do? I think, faith would have meant the disciples laying down and taking a nap with Jesus. I may be wrong, but if Christ is the supreme example for our faith than what option do we have? To face things as he did. To lay down with him. To follow him regardless of storms, fires, sacrifices or cancer.
The great thing about this story in Mark 4 is that, even though Jesus seems disappointed in the disciples’ actions, he still calms the storm. He didn’t wake up and preach them a sermon on faith at this point. He didn’t chastise them and leave them in a panic. Jesus understood his disciples and understood what their faith could bear. He gave them only up to what they could bear, but not more.
God is a God of grace, and even though the situations of life might test us with God for us nothing can be against us. It may not always feel that way, it may not always seem that way.
But it is that way, and right now I’m having to learn how that works.