Of Faith and Fear: The Coronavirus Storm

“Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” (Matthew 8:23-27 NKJ)

There are times when there is relative peace in our lives and then all of a sudden out of nowhere (or so it seems) an unexpected wind begins to howl and a storm strikes. The sea waters of your life are calm one minute; and then the next, waters are raging against you, overwhelming you; your boat begins to fill with water as it sinks slowly into the depths below (v. 24a). Fear strikes your heart and you panic. We see that that was what happened to the disciples in the above Gospel record, not metaphorically, but in actual time space history.

And yet, in this brief account there is much we can take away, especially in the times of troubles that the whole world is now experiencing the Coronavirus storm. In recent days we have been exposed to this type of sudden change in all our lives. We are cruising along minding our own business when all of a sudden we are faced with an invisible enemy, the Coronavirus. It is a fierce enemy much like the wind that stirs up mighty waves that beat against us turning calm and relative peace into a raging storm that threatens our very lives.

There are three observations from this account in Matthew we can take comfort in:

First, Jesus is our calm in our storm! (Jesus was asleep while boat was being covered with waves – v. 24b.) While the storm rages out of control (or so it seems) around us we must remember that our God and Savior, Jesus Christ is calm; at peace. He is not concerned because He knows that His and our heavenly Father will not allow hair to fall from our head outside of His will. The Coronavirus doesn’t frighten Jesus, nor should it frighten you. While the rest of the world goes about in a state fear and panic we must remain calm and at peace, as redeemed Children of God, knowing that no matter how strong the winds blow and the seas of this life rage against us our Faithful Father will not allow anything to happen to us that is outside His good and perfect will for us and for His glory. He is in control in the midst of this storm.

Second, we observe that in their fear the disciples turned to Jesus (v. 25). When fear strikes, remember you can always turn to Jesus for He is our peace not only between God and us as sinners (Ephesians 2:14-16), but He is also our peace in this troubled world for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Instead of looking in fear at the storm that is raging around us, we ought to look to Jesus for comfort and the peace of mind that He gives by grace through the operation of the Holy Spirit (see Philippians 4:6-7). We are reminded in the words of the frightened disciples that we don’t need a long drawn out prayer to make our request known to Him. “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” is sufficient at times. When panic strikes, a very simple, direct and to the point prayer, prayed by faith with a believing heart, works. For the disciples, it was a prayer driven by fear; it was a prayer lacking faith. Yet despite their lack of faith, He heard their request and responded – after rebuking them. Don’t let the Lord’s rebuke keep you from going to Him; but rather humbly receive His rebuke and by faith, turn to Jesus to help you in your time of need before fear grips your heart; it’s not called the “throne of grace” for nothing (Hebrews 4:16)! Turn to Him, even in your time of fear and panic – as they say, better late than not at all. Better yet, before fear and panic strikes look to Him in your time of crisis; lean on Him because He who saved you will take care of you and strengthen you as you go through this time of uncertainty.

This leads us to the third observation. We are to turn to Jesus and lean on Him in this time of crisis, because He is able to calm the seas and to get us safely to where we need to be, according to His good purpose for us and God’s glory. In response to the disciples’ crying out to Him for help in their time of desperation, “He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” Though our Savior rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, He nonetheless, calmed the seas by the power of His word, just as He spoke all things into existence (Psalm 33:6; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 11:3) and upholds all that He created by that same power. By His power He can subdue and intervene in times such as this (see 2 Samuel 24:14ff); yet, we must be willing to submit to His will and not our wants and desires as He works out His purpose for His elect and His glory.

Jesus Christ calms the mighty winds that the stir up the raging seas; so also, if He is willing, He can calm the blowing threat of the Coronavirus that has stirred up much fear and panic and bring peace as He draws our hearts to Him to lean on Him for His peace of mind and a calm spirit. He is the God of all mercy and full of grace.

Beloved in the Lord, don’t let fear drive us to panic, especially as we face a fearsome invisible enemy, such as the Coronavirus; but rather let’s put our trust and confidence in Him who calms the raging seas, heals our infirmities, and lifts us up out of our fears by the power of His word. Know that He will rebuke us in His word for our lack of faith; but by the grace of God, we ought to be ready to receive that rebuke, humble our hearts and turn to Him in repentance and faith. Therefore, let this be a time of reflection in whom we are placing our confidence and meditate on the words of comfort and true peace which are found only in God’s holy word, the Bible, seeking His calm, and confidence, so that our fears may be turned to faith; a faith that embraces with a sure knowledge and hearty trust His peace and power to save us from the raging seas that seek to swallow us up to the glory of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you . To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11 NKJ)

Soli Deo Gloria!

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