Sleep Through the Storm

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” -Mark 4:37-38

We are living in tumultuous days. Whether you live in the United States or another country, you may find yourself facing lockdowns, mandatory vaccines or other chaotic events. There is no doubt the world is facing a storm of unprecedented proportions. I even suspect we have not seen the end of it yet. We cannot control our ever-changing circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them. We can give into fear and make irrational and foolish decisions or we can instead, choose to put all our trust in Jesus and make wise decisions from a place of peace. Some decisions we make are rooted in fear, even though they mask themselves as “wisdom.” In this season, it’s important to examine the motives behind our decisions. Are you making a decision from a place of trust or a place of self-reliance? Let’s choose to place all of our hope and faith in Jesus, for “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). Trusting God is not only an anchor, but also a solid rock to stand on. In Psalm 62:5-8, King David wrote,

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.”

King David knew that when we place our full trust in God, we become unshakeable. We receive the safety and security that we long for, which brings us unfathomable peace. This peace of God, which goes beyond our ability to understand, brings us rest for our souls (Philippians 4:7). When we live and make decisions from a place of rest, we are free to make wise and faith-filled choices that bring life.

One night in September, the Holy Spirit showed me that I have a choice to make during this current storm we’re living in. He reminded me of the story where Jesus calmed the storm. Mark 4:35-41 reads:

“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ “

Even though Jesus calming the wind and waves is an amazing miracle, it was the reaction to the storm that the Holy Spirit was pointing me to. He told me I can either respond like the disciples or like Jesus. The disciples gave into fear and panic, calling on Jesus without faith. Jesus, however, defies all logic and worldly wisdom by sleeping in the stern. Jesus’ behavior during the storm has puzzled many believers. With the size of the boat and the strength of the storm, how was it even possible for Jesus to be sleeping? He must have been really tired! I knew the Lord was giving me an invitation to sleep next to him in the stern during this current storm. Many people will be reacting like the disciples did. At times, I have responded in fear as well. Jesus’ invitation to rest is always available though, and we can choose to find His rest in this season no matter how wild the storm gets.

When we hear the word “rest,” we often think of sleep or inactivity. Even though rest does sometimes refer to sleeping, in this case, I know the Lord means more than just taking a nap. True rest comes from trusting in God completely. When we believe he will never leave nor forsake us, we find real peace that brings rest to our weary souls (Joshua 1:5). Rest can be active. Everything we do can be done from a place of rest. Whether we are working, going shopping or spending time with people, our souls can be at rest. We do not have to live in a frantic survival mode. We can be calm and full of faith in all circumstances, when we trust Jesus. Some practical ways we can step into rest are:

  • Praying
  • Reading the Bible
  • Praising and worshiping Jesus
  • Fasting from food, internet, social media, news…
  • Journaling
  • Exercising, walking, riding a bike, hiking…
  • Drawing, painting, coloring
  • Gardening
  • Playing games
  • Traveling or spending a relaxing weekend at home.

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it gives you some ideas to start with. What brings rest to your body and soul? How can you connect with Jesus right now and affirm your trust in him?

Rest may seem like a passive waste of time to some of us. Let me point out that resting during a storm is actually a strategy for overcoming difficult obstacles. Do you think Jesus, who is perfect, made a mistake by sleeping during the storm? Of course not! In fact, his act of sleeping is so unusual, nobody would dream of doing it during a storm of that magnitude. It’s a divine act that only Jesus, who lives in complete peace and has full trust in the Father God, is capable of doing. He knew there was nothing to fear because all he had to do was say the word and the storm would come to an immediate halt. His faith allowed him to rest when no one else could. In the same way, we can only choose to rest during this current storm with Jesus as our anchor. This act of rest will speak volumes to the world around us. If they see believers at peace when everyone else is afraid, it will be a testimony to them that we know Jesus and that he lives inside of us by His Spirit. Will you join Jesus in the stern during this stormy season? I promise the cushions are soft and the sleep is sweet. When Jesus rebukes this storm, we will be well-rested and ready for the harvest!

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