As you know, I’m trying to pray more regularly for our country in these last few, insane weeks before the election. I pray that we Americans will be less angry and more compassionate, that we will be less directed by our emotions and more wise; I pray that God will be merciful to us.
I am praying partly because one presidential candidate scares me to death. I fear the cultural anger and hostility towards those we disagree with that may follow in the wake of this person’s election, the predicted economic instability, the threats to our national security.
And so it struck me as appropriate that my daily Bible reading yesterday came around to Mark 4. I want to share it with you now, in hope that it will be an encouragement:
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
When we talk about this passage, we usually talk about its resolution: Jesus calmed the storms! Jesus can get you out of your troubles! You will be safe with Jesus!
And that’s true, as far as it goes. Jesus does calm the storms in the story, and He can rescue us from the storms of life.
But a lot happens in the story besides Jesus rescuing His disciples.
The disciples shake Jesus awake and tell him they’re all drowning. We usually seize on this as evidence of the disciples’ lack of faith, but notice that Jesus does not contradict them. They are, in fact, about to die.
Thus, having Jesus in our boat (so to speak) does not mean we are not in trouble. Things may get very bad indeed, and although the disciples are rescued, Jesus does not promise to rescue us. Jesus will rescue us is not even the disciples’ takeaway from the whole adventure; they do not learn that they will be safe with Jesus; they learn that Jesus commands the winds and the sea. They learn that Jesus is in charge. And being in charge, Jesus could presumably have slept on, and let the whole boat drown. The disciples didn’t drown, of course, but we may: The winds and storms we face are in His command, and sometimes He lets them rage on. Sometimes we do perish.
And yet Jesus tells us to have faith, to trust Him.
I am not easily comforted simply by knowing that the Lord is in command of the storms. I want the storms to cease. I want that great calm which the Lord gave to the disciples.
Yet I have been realizing lately that our faith should not be in one of the candidates to save our country, but in the Lord alone.
Donald Trump cannot make America great again.
Hillary Clinton will not restore balance to the country after a turbulent election.
And so, our only hope is Christ. He will not calm the storm, though I pray that He will do so; He is not a political candidate, to promise us job growth and a strong economy and a sure national defense.
But He is in charge, and we can find that reassuring.
I pray that we may have the faith to do so.