When the Ending Isn’t Happy
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Matthew 8:26
In the chaotic consequences of my addiction, my family and career were in shambles. I desperately wanted both back, but in the months of uncertainty I became very fearful and anxious. In the tempest of my life I desperately wanted God to show up the way he did in today’s passage, miraculously dismissing the storm, fixing everything.
In the story, the disciples were traveling by boat with Jesus – who was asleep – when a storm came up. The disciples were afraid. As far as they could see, their death was imminent. They awoke Jesus, who calmed the storm and then chastised them for their lack of faith.
Some will suggest that Jesus was teaching his disciples that while he was with them, nothing bad could happen, so it was silly to worry about the storm. Jesus himself though, went on to die a horrible death as did most of his disciples. In light of this reality, the lesson cannot be that bad things don’t happen to Christians.
What then, did Jesus mean? Jesus wasn’t saying that the storms of life aren’t dangerous. He didn’t even promise that he would always calm the storms. Instead, Christ insisted that no matter what happened to them, the disciples would still be with Christ. The world may kill their bodies, but nothing could change their eternal reality.
Death comes for us all. A millennium from now, this time on earth will seem like a miniscule moment. The greatest thing about us, the thing that will still matter in a thousand years, is that we know God, and nothing, neither storms nor death, can take that away. Faith means keeping eyes on Christ, choosing this perspective.
In my own disaster, I wanted God’s promise that everything was going to be fixed. He didn’t promise that. Instead, he insisted that I focus my gaze on him and that I find my joy, peace, and comfort in him alone. Faith meant learning not to rely on my circumstances, because no matter what happened, nothing could take away the most important thing about me.
This is a difficult lesson that we must continually relearn. Life repeatedly throws storms that distract our focus. Daily, we must choose faith, keeping our eyes on Christ, following him, even when things don’t end how we think they should.