Some times you get news that rattles you to the core of your being. You don’t know exactly how to respond. When I receive the really bad news I typically stuff my emotions and then they leak out with anger. I get short and I snap at folks.
How do you respond when you get the bad news or the hard news?
I was pondering a short little story in Matthew 8:23-27 this morning,
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
If I’m honest with myself the hardest information for me to deal with are the things that are out of my control: natural disasters, illnesses, and accidents. These are the things that I have no control over and as a result I disassociate from my emotions and then anger leaks out.
What is it about these kinds of things that cause this kind of reaction in me?
I think it’s because I can’t do anything about it. I like control. I love control. Control is like a drug that I’m addicted to. If I’m really honest with myself, control is an idol that I worship.
When control is lost I think I experience fear.
I don’t like admitting that.
I consider myself to be someone who isn’t afraid of much. Sure, I’m not a fan of heights or snakes. But, those are irrational fears. When our idols are destroyed the fear that we experience is from the loss of something that we hold sacred at an identity level. “I am in control.” This is a statment of identity. This “I am” statement points to something deep within me. When that is torn away I fear that I am losing part of me.
The disciples in that story experienced fear and that fear was overwhelming. These were guys that lived on the water. Many were seasoned fishermen. It was not like they were new to boating on the Sea of Galilee. It was chaos on the boat. These men had lost control. They were afraid they were going to die.
Jesus had no such fear. He was sleeping in the storm.
The contrast between Jesus and the disciples is stark. The disciples were experiencing their idol of control being dismantled and washed overboard. Jesus, was resting. They were frantic.
Jesus wakes, calms the sea, and challenges their faith. It seems a little mean-spirited if you ask me. The squalls on the Sea of Galilee are famously vicious. These men couldn’t control the wind and the waves. Why did Jesus ask this? I think he was making a point to them: Your faith is wrongly placed. You trust in your ability to control the uncontrollable. Yet, their faith needed to be outside themselves in the one with authority.
Notice their response was amazement at the authority of Jesus. Because of his authority over the wind and the waves Jesus was in control. He was trusting in himself, control wasn’t an idol, he had authority.
I’m learning that when I find that I don’t have control over the things in my life and the fear rises up and I disassociate from my emotions that I need to remember again to yield. I need to rest in the authority of the one outside myself. Faith that there is a God who has authority over the world allows me to rest. It often takes a long time to get there, particularly when things feel senseless. When I finally get to the place of trust and rest I find that the fear dissapates.
What does it look like for you when your idols get challenged? How do you respond? What’s your go to response? For me it’s fear that translates to anger. That sense of anger is now the thermometer for me. When I feel a sense of anger in me that seems to come from nowhere it’s a sign that my trust idol, control, is being disrupted and I need to turn and trust God again.