The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?… Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
Does God sleep? Seems so. Christ’s disciples found themselves in a boat, in the middle of a furious storm — and Jesus was sleeping.
Jesus often seems to be sleeping. Facing trouble in my ministry —I can’t get an answer to prayer to save my life! The prophet Isaiah had such a hard time finding any sign of God that he called him the “God who hides himself” (Isaiah 45:15). Sometimes it seems God is willing for us to just fail, suffer, even die.
Why? The 18th century biblical scholar Matthew Henry put it this way: God sleeps “with a design to be awaked.” He sleeps in order to teach us the proper way to wake him.
The disciples didn’t get this. Mark 4:38 says they woke him and demanded, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
We do this. We don’t see any way for God to meet our need, and we feel that because he’s not meeting it the way we think he ought to be meeting it, and he’s not meeting it on our timetable, he doesn’t care.
But that’s only our perspective on our situation — not God’s perspective. Matthew Henry goes on to say that Christ may sleep, but he will not oversleep. Jesus responded to the disciples’ panic. In Matthew 8:26 he replied, “‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”
He didn’t solve the problem first; he taught the lesson first. Three of the four gospel writers recount this experience, but Matthew makes a point of the sequence of Jesus’ remarks. He says Jesus “replied” to them before he ever got out of his bunk — he says “then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves.”
Jesus is more interested in what we learn — how we grow — than he is in solving the problem that we’re so fixated on!
Olympic skaters could feel good, they could get lots of applause, doing double-axles. And they would never fall down. But Olympic skaters fall down all the time — because they keep pushing themselves to do triple-axles. They don’t just want to feel good; they want to win. So they “make” problems for themselves to solve. They sail into the storm. They want to grow. Growth is more important to them than avoiding the trial of the moment.
Is God sleeping during my trouble? No. The bad times are growth times. I’m learning to skate … learning to sail … as I grow into Christlikeness. Timing is everything!
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… God, give me your perspective. In my problem times grow my faith in your unfailingness. Remind me that you’re not asleep, but incontrol of everything. Help me trust your timing and plan. Amen.