Are you familiar with the origin of these words? They are a quote from Scripture, the command Jesus gave to a raging storm in response to his terrified disciples. It is probably one of the best-loved stories of the miracles of Jesus.
The new disciples spent all their time now with Jesus; they’d seen some of his miracles, but their faith was still growing. They had not yet realized He was [is] God in the flesh. Jesus, even though he was exhausted, even though they had awakened him from much-needed rest, had compassion on them. The Bible says He rebuked the wind and the waves, saying “Peace, be still.”
At once , the wind stopped its fierce howling, and the sea was completely calm. Only then did he turn to ask how they could be so afraid, to comment that they had so little faith.
His sensitivity reminds me of when I was little and had an irrational fear of spiders. I guess it started one night when I awoke to get a drink of water. When I climbed back into my bed and pulled the quilt back up to my chin, there was a huge wolf spider resting on my chest looking at me. (Can you imagine the 5-year-old girl kind of screaming?)
My mother was always calm in these situations—I don’t know how she manages that, because I am prone to freaking out a little bit when my children are upset. But she never did.
Anyway, she came into my room and somehow figured out what was upsetting me. I don’t remember what she did to remove that particular spider, but from then on, I remember shoes being involved. She hugged me tight. She whispered, “Shhh, Baby.” over and over, while she stroked my hair. She never said I was foolish. And once I calmed down, she did take time to point out how small that spider was compared to me and to explain that I probably frightened him much more than he had frightened me.
I’ve outgrown that particular fear. Oh, I still do not like spiders in my house, and they are likely to meet an untimely death by vacuum cleaner if they decide to come in. But they don’t send me into hysterics like the mere sight of one used to do.
Back to the Bible story:
Jesus did not get angry with the disciples. He was sensitive to their fears, to their human emotions.
Jesus had spoken to the disciples as the embarked on that journey across Galilee, “Let us cross over to the other side.” He fully intended to arrive at the other side. And I believe they would have made it even if he did not calm the storm. Perhaps the storm would have dissipated as quickly as it blew in had they only waited a few more minutes. But in their fear, they had forgotten his words. “Carest thou not that we perish?” they cried.
We are going to have moments when we think everything is completely out of control, when we get totally overwhelmed by our circumstances and forget that God has a perfect plan. The storm seems so dark and powerful that it blots out the face of God. It’s so easy to forget that we can trust His heart.
Fear can be a robber of peace, an under miner of our faith. Yet even when our prayers sound more like accusations, still he cares for us. For the disciples, it served God’s purpose to eliminate the cause of their fear, demonstrating His power over nature. Because we now have Scripture to teach us the lesson that Jesus is God, such divine demonstration is no longer required. But he still cares about our circumstances and our fears. He may not choose to eradicate our source of fear. But if we allow him to, Jesus will calm our troubled hearts just like he calmed that storm.
Peace. Be still.