What to do When You’re Afraid

Finding Calm
Finding Calm
Photo credit: kobaken++

Are you someone who is easily fearful? Do you find yourself getting anxious about things and don’t know what to do about it? Fear is a horrible thing and something most people suffer with at some point to varying degrees, BUT, the truth is, it’s a choice!

Do you know the story of Jesus and his disciples (close friends) who were in a boat when a storm came? Let me paraphrase in case you don’t. Jesus told his disciples to cross the lake. Once they were in the boat and Jesus was asleep, a great storm arose so that waves covered the boat. The disciples, understandably fearful woke Jesus shouting “help us, or we will die”. What was Jesus’ response? Did he panic, did he rush to comfort his friends who were clearly terrified? Did he calm the storm and then hug his disciples. No. He spoke sternly to them and then calmed the storm.

Jesus did something which it’s easy just to read over without fully appreciating the gravity of the situation. Jesus said to his disciples:

Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!
Matthew 8:26

This was a real storm. This wasn’t a little bit of wind; the waves were so bad the Bible says they covered the boat. Can you imagine being in this type of storm? This wasn’t a storm they were worried about. It wasn’t a potential danger in sight, this was a real risk. They were in the midst of very real danger happening right then and there.

Understandably they were afraid, right? The boat was probably looking likely to sink any moment and their best friend, their saviour, was sleeping. Can you imagine the urgency with which they must have woken him, look at what they said “help us or we will die“. They needed a saviour at that moment and they were desperate for his help.

Picture it for a second here. Jesus was asleep, he’s woken by his friends and the storm is in full pelt, things are looking awful and the boat is being covered by wave after wave. Jesus of course knows he can calm the storm, but surely he would want to do it as quickly as possible. But no, before he calms the storm he speaks to his disciples and asks “why are they afraid?” Why are they afraid? How could he ask this? Can’t he understand why they might be fearful seeing these massive waves overtaking the boat? Yet he asks why they were afraid and then rebukes them for the lack of faith.

You see, Jesus wasn’t concerned about this storm, not one bit. He told his disciples to cross the lake. He knew this storm would take place and yet he still asked them to go. Why? Perhaps because he wanted them to learn one of life’s hardest lessons: what to do when storms come; how to walk through them and how to react to fear.

It amazes me that Jesus asked them why they were afraid BEFORE calming the storm. I think he probably wanted to show them something. He wanted to show them that when a fear arises, you don’t need to panic. You don’t need to act suddenly seized by fear. You can remain at peace. Not because things were looking good, not because they knew how to deal with this storm, but because Jesus was in the boat!

In the Storm
In the Storm
Photo credit: Cole Patrick

Have you ever wondered what Jesus might have wanted his disciples to do instead? I mean he rebuked them for their little faith, therefore their reaction obviously wasn’t what he wanted. So what would he have wanted instead? I think he wanted them to trust HIM! To understand that although things were looking really bad, he was in the boat. To understand he had asked them to go to that place, that this storm didn’t surprise Him. To come to Him, tell him they were afraid, and ask Him what they should do. Not because they didn’t experience fear, they did, but because they trusted if Jesus was there, He would look after them, he would protect them, because He is always good, and always in control.

You see fears come and go. You might get a feeling of fear, a thought that provokes a feeling, a sudden wave of panic, those things come to everyone, but, it’s what we do with them from there that determines our faith in Him.

Perhaps you are in the midst of a storm right now, it’s not pending it is very real. Perhaps you have lost a job, perhaps you are in debt, perhaps you have been given a health scare, perhaps things are spinning out of control and all you really want to do is shout ‘help or I will die!” Feeling afraid in a moment isn’t wrong but it is how we then react to it. Do we continue in fear or do we look to Him.

Just go Him, be real, tell him you are afraid, but, don’t leave it there, ask Him what He will do. Ask him what He wants you to do. Because if you are a believer, Jesus is in your boat. I don’t think He rebuked the disciples for experiencing a feeling of fear in the face of very real danger, I think he rebuked them because they questioned Him. Because they didn’t deal with that initial feeling of fear and then put their trust in Him. They questioned whether or not he would save them. But if He’s in your boat, you can be sure He will save you. He will calm the storm. If He has allowed you to get to it, He will bring you through it.

Have you every wondered why Jesus not only allowed them, but told them to go onto that lake, that night, knowing a storm was coming. Perhaps he wanted His disciples to learn, whatever storms you face, I’m there and I am not afraid.

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