Peace, Be Still
When I look at this painting, I get a sense of calm. It depicts Jesus and his disciples after Jesus has calmed the storm. (Mark 4:39) You can still see distant thunder and lightening disappearing in the lower left- and right-hand corners. Jesus, in the red cloak, has his arms raised in such a way as to foretell his crucifixion. The miracle he has just performed causes the disciples to look off in wonder. John lays with his head down, worshiping Jesus who stands above him.
In these fearful times such as this, we are often told to keep the faith. But what moves us from fear to faith? Dr. David Lose, the senior pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, points out that fear and faith are similar in that both relate to something that is unknown, challenging, difficult, or threatening. Therefore, when those types of things arise, we have a choice: fear or faith.
Rarely is it an either/or choice because faith doesn’t so much replace fear as it makes it possible to cope with fear. What enables us to act in faith—even when we are afraid—and not be overcome with fear?
We may argue that it would be easier for us to cope with fear if we just had a miracle or two to convince us God really is who he says he is. But the calming-of-the-sea miracle in this story tends to create more fear than the bumpy boat ride. “Who is this man!?” the disciples cry out. Even though they had witnessed many of his miracles, they were still unsure of who Jesus was.
Lose writes: “The shift in the disciples’ reaction—from ‘do you not care we are perishing?’ to ‘who is this?’—signifies a shift from what, the miracle, to who, Jesus. This leads me to conclude that perhaps the answer to our question—’What moves us from fear to faith?’—is a relationship. It’s the move from what to who, from event to person, from ambiguous miracle to the actual person of Jesus.”
The faith we need to help us cope with fear is not found in a self-help book, or in an in-depth study of theology, or in our effort to try harder. Rather, faith is about a relationship with the God revealed by the actions and words of Jesus.
Being Human connection: Remember, the Lord of creation, by whom and for whom all things were made and all things hold together, controls, with care, our world. Peace, be still. God has not forgotten us. Let that truth, embodied by Jesus, move us from fear to faith.
Featured art: Stephen Gjertson, “Peace, Be Still,” 1998. Gjertson founding member of The American Society of Classical Realism Guild of Artists. He painted five versions of this scene, all showing the authority of Christ over his creation. He says, “Within my limitations, I endeavored to authentically clothe the disciples and put them in a historically accurate vessel. John, my favorite disciple, who is often missed, lies prostrate below the Lord, grasping his garment in mute worship. The others stand, sit or kneel in awe, marveling at the extent of their Master’s authority.”