“Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:26)
Behold, there arose a great storm at sea. The boat was swamped by the waves, but Jesus was asleep. Just as the disciples were shocked to find Jesus sleeping while they were facing a great storm, many of us today just cannot understand where God is in the midst of various crises threatening our lives today.
Is it possible that Jesus was not aware of the storm and the fact that the boat was at the point of sinking? No way. Jesus who could see from a distance what the disciples were facing at sea and walked towards them (Cf. Matthew 14:23-26), was fully aware of the storm even though he appeared to be sleeping. When it seems as if God is sleeping, that is precisely when we need to trust Him more because, at such moments, we are just being tested. Jesus wanted to see the reaction of the disciples; to know if they had learnt anything thus far.
As St. James puts it: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4). From the early days of Christianity till now, Christians have always been the subject of attack, persecution, and all sorts of injustice. Jesus even said that a time is coming when whoever kills us will think he is offering a service to God. (Cf. John 16:2)
The question is not whether or not we would face trials, this is certain, the question is how do we respond in such moments? Faced with the storms, the disciples expected the worst, they cried out: “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” Jesus was disappointed with them not because they prayed but because they prayed with fear; that is, they were not expecting their prayers to be answered.
Jesus asked them: “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” God is not happy with us when we go down on our knees praying from morning till night, shouting at the top of our voices yet deep inside us, we are still full of fear and worry. This is why Jesus warned us against using many words in prayer (Cf. Matthew 6:7). If you do not believe in prayer, stop throwing stones at those who believe. Stop playing the devil by discouraging others from praying. If you see prayers as useless, just do what you can do to solve the problem. Stop complaining about what someone else is not doing or should be doing. You do something, you lead the way, you be the change. This is not the time for us Christians to be fighting ourselves. We have a common enemy and we all must use every means available to tackle this problem.
But then, if you still believe in the power of prayers, that is, if you still have faith in God, then this is time to increase your prayers. God has rescued his children from worse things than what we are facing today. It may seem as if God is sleeping but we know that He cannot sleep. Let us pray until something happens. Let us pray until Jesus gets up to say to the storms around us: “Be Still.” Let us pray like that woman who kept going back to the judge demanding justice until she got an answer. (Cf. Luke 18:1-8). Let our faith be large enough to swallow our fears.
Let us pray: Almighty when I fear, teach me to be calm and expect the best. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Bible Study: Amos 3:1-8,4:11-12, Ps. 5:5-8, Matthew 8:23-27)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu