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Why are acts of God frightening?

Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, July 16
Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, July 16
Максим Кукушкин

Today’s bible study is from the Gospel of Mark 4:39-40: He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

How ineffectual this verse makes us feel! We have no power at all over the wind and the waters. We can yell and yell, but it will be in vain. We are at the mercy of the powers of nature. We may be afraid, but we can do nothing to still the waters or calm the wind. These are acts of God. It always seems rather strange that insurance companies refer to rain and wind as acts of God when these are damaging to people and property. We want to think of God as performing only acts that are gentle and kind and good. Yet, the powers of nature are beyond our control and can only be considered acts of God.

In today’s verses, we deal with rebuke and fear. Rebuked is the same verb used for addressing demons, where peace is the same word translated as be silent. Calming the storm is portrayed as an exorcism of the storm demon, another victory of Christ over satanic evil.

Then we are asked why we are afraid. Are we afraid because we are, on some level, suffering? Are we feeling overwhelmed with debt, crises, illness, or loss? Is suffering God’s challenge to humanity? Perhaps we have never thought of it as being a challenge before. The story functions not only as a report of a once-upon-a-time amazing event at sea, but like the Gospel as a whole, as a Christological narrative representing the divine-human encounter in the Christ event.

This may seem hard to understand, but, reduced to its simplest terms, God is saying that we should not fear if we put out trust in him. He has the power to overcome demons, forced of nature, and all events that may befall us. If the waters of our own lives seem choppy and frightening, we can go to God in prayer and ask to be stilled. If we are living with fear and doubt, we can turn to Jesus and seek relief through prayer and spirituality. May we never cease to remember this and never cease to do so, especially in times of trouble.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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