a Stephen Ministry introduction from Deacon Joy Unger
Sometimes you can see the storm developing around you. You can feel the winds pick up speed, feel the temperature drop slightly, see the clouds start to darken and cover the once clear sky. If you read the signs right, you can make your way inside and watch the storm hit without fear of getting wet. Sometimes the storm comes upon you so fast that you barely have time to prepare yourself before you feel the first drops fall. Before you know it, you’re soaked — wind whipping all around you as you run for the nearest shelter to take cover. Even if the storm is not life-threatening, it is second nature to be afraid and for our survival instincts to kick in until the threat has passed.
The disciples are no exception to human nature. In Matthew 8, we get the story of seeing them in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee when a great storm rolls in. Their fear is very real as the waves hurl water into their small fishing boat and the very real threat of the boat sinking and the disciples drowning sets in. Everyone is scrambling and afraid — except for Jesus who is sleeping peacefully near them. Their cries wake him up “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
I hope you know this story too: Jesus wakes up, gently rebukes their weak faith, and then turns to the storm itself and rebukes it. The wind and the waves ease up, the sea becomes deadly calm, and the disciples are left wondering exactly who is this man, Jesus, and how can he do such things?
Not all of us are fishermen nor need to travel much by boat in our part of the world, but spiritual storms are certainly a guaranteed part of life. I believe that we are given this story in Matthew’s Gospel account for several reasons. We can be assured that if we find ourselves in the midst of a storm, we are not alone; God himself is with us in the boat. We see from the disciples’ actions that if we cry out to God for help, he will hear us and act quickly. We also learn that no storm is small enough for God not to care about, and no storm is so large that God is unable to contain it. God alone can calm the wind and the waves and give us His supernatural peace through His presence.
If you find yourself watching the clouds darken and the winds are beginning to howl, please do not hesitate to ask for a Stephen Minister to help. Stephen Ministry is a ministry of presence and of drawing near to you in the midst of a storm. We cannot calm the storm for you, but we can get into the boat with you until it passes. Please reach out to Deacon Joy Unger if you feel like this could help.