March 13, 2012

In the Midst of Storm

Mark 4:35-41

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.
—Mark 4:38


After a busy day, Jesus suggested an evening boat trip across the lake. Soon he was napping while the disciples handled the oars. But then a sudden squall came upon them.

Where was Jesus? “Jesus was in the stern”—that is, in the back of the boat—and in the midst of this squall he was “sleeping on a cushion.”

This startling story reminds us that Jesus is present in the stormy times of our lives—the severe, harsh, hard times. And when he rebukes the storm—“Quiet! Be still!”—the disciples know that he cares for them in their times of severe struggle and even fear and terror.

Some time later the disciples were alone in a boat on that same lake, “straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” Jesus “went out to them, walking on the lake” (Mark 6:48). Again he was present in a severe time.

Sheldon Vanauken’s book A Severe Mercy relates the conversions of his wife and himself under the influence of C. S. Lewis, and his wife’s subsequent death in the prime of her life. His sequel, Under the Mercy, details his dark pilgrimage after her death. Both books convey the theme that in the most difficult and severe times of life there is mercy. In this merciful care, the Lord is with us always.

Lent helps us remember that Jesus endured the most difficult suffering of all so that we might live in hope under his mercy.

Jesus, please remind us that even in severe, stormy times you are with us in your mercy. In your name we hope. Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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