Jump Start # 2064
Matthew 8:26 “And He said to them, ‘Why are you timid, you men of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm.”
Disappointments—they are part of life. It’s hard to deal with disappointments. As the college basketball tournament narrows down, favorite teams win and lose. Those that lose go home. Their season is over. Disappointed. A favorite TV show is cancelled. Disappointed.
But there are greater and more serious disappointments in life than TV shows and basketball games. Your teen gets in trouble at school. As a parent you are upset, angry and disappointed. He knew better. The congregation you attend holds a special series of lessons. There is a lot of hype, talk and publication about this event. But few come. The place is nearly empty. Those that arranged it are really disappointed. What could be more important than a spiritual feast? Some even wonder if they should ever have something like that again. Then there is the man who is layered with ability and talent. He’s a natural leader and everyone loves him. He would be amazing in the leadership of the congregation. He’s asked. He’s not interested. Major let down and disappointment.
Our passage today is one of many found in Matthew with that expression, “little faith.” There was a storm. The storm was bad. It was intense. The waves were breaking above the boat. Jesus was asleep. I expect Matthew was about to crawl out of his skin in fear. Matthew had a desk job. The sea wasn’t his place. But for Peter, James and John, they lived on the water. Storms were something that they have seen and dealt with. But this one was really bad. They believed that they wouldn’t make it. I expect the three fishermen were shouting orders to the rest. Bail the water out. Pull the lines. Adjust the sail. Nothing was working. Finally, when it seemed all hope was lost, they turned to Jesus. They woke Jesus up, saying, “Save us. We are perishing.” And, this is where our verse follows.
Why are you timid, Jesus asks. You have little faith. You are men, but you don’t have faith like men. You have little faith. The Lord was disappointed in them. The Lord expected more from them. I have taught this passage dozens of times. I have put myself in that boat and thought what should they have done? Was it that no one was praying? The boat was filling up with water, Mark tells us. Was it their words, “we are perishing,” that seemed so faithless. If the boat sank, wouldn’t the sleeping Jesus also go down? Did they think Jesus came from Heaven only to drown in a boating accident? How was He going to establish His kingdom if all the components for that kingdom went down in the sea?
But I doubt they thought about those things. Fear causes one to panic. Fear thinks the worst. Fear drives out faith. The more fear the less faith. And, the more faith, the less fear. They had little faith, therefore they thought this was it. We are dying. We are all going to die right here in this storm.
Mark’s account adds another expression from these fearful disciples. They woke Jesus up and said, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” It wasn’t, “can you do something about this.” Or, “have you ever seen a storm like this before?” No. It was do you not CARE. The one thing Jesus did was care. Why did He leave Heaven, because He cared for us. Why was He subjecting Himself to storms, because He cared. There are no storms in Heaven. Why would He have an appointment with a cross? Because He cared. The whole reason He was there on earth was because He cared.
Disappointments. How do we deal with disappointments?
First, we know what we shouldn’t do. Let’s start with that. We shouldn’t lose our cool, get so upset that we say and do things that we later regret and must apologize for. We tend to do this with our family. We expect so much from them and when they do what they should, it really angers us. Mom and Dad go out for dinner. The kids are home. Pizza and movie and they are all set. Mom and dad come home and the house is a wreck. Someone spilled a drink and didn’t clean it up. The dog made a mess because no one let it out. There is slices of pizza on the couch, which the dog has gotten into. Lights are left on. The house looks like a college dorm. Disappointed. Angry. Upset. Be careful. Don’t explode and say things you’ll regret. It’s hard not to, but temper yourself.
Second, some people do not understand nor get it with one lesson. Some do. Some are quick to learn. Some have their minds floating elsewhere and they don’t do what you have asked them. This happens at work. This happens in the congregation. This happens at home. So, patiently, you must remind them. You must show them. You must teach them. Disappointed, you are hoping to fix this for the next time.
Third, some are just rebellious. They don’t want to do what you said. They heard. They know. They don’t care. The lazy bone in them takes over. They sit at their desk all day and do nothing. The work that they were supposed to do never gets done. The student puts off assignments to the very last second and then begs for mercy and more time. Sometimes the rebellious must learn by suffering the consequences. The worker may have to get written up. The student may get a bad grade.
But the hardest lessons are the spiritual disappointments. Someone lets us down morally. They were caught drinking. Drugs were found in their room. There is a unwed pregnancy. Those are tough. There are consequences for all of those things. Tears and saying “I’m sorry,” doesn’t always make these things go away. What’s missing in all of these moral failures is God. The lack of faith leads to wrong choices. It’s easier to go along with the crowd than to walk away or to stand up to what is right.
Jesus was disappointed with these apostles. They demonstrated little faith. A simple problem, a storm, and they wilted. What would happen when their lives where threatened by Romans? What would happen when angry mobs would chase them and imprison them? This storm was nothing compared to what was coming. Jesus knew. They didn’t. He was trying to prepare them.
But Jesus didn’t give up on them. He didn’t fire them. He didn’t bring up the B-team. He stuck with them. He continued to teach. He continued to show. He built their faith. They would later fearlessly stand before crowds and proclaim that Jesus is the Christ. That’s what we must do. Don’t give up. Don’t walk away from those that disappointed you. Continue to teach. Continue to show. Continue to grow that faith.
And, then there remains the one other side of this. There are times when you and I disappoint others and especially Jesus. We are quiet when we could invite. We hide rather than profess. We stand with the wrong crowd. We make the wrong choices. We sin. It breaks God’s heart. But, like those apostles, He doesn’t give up on us. We learn. We confess. We do better.
May we strive to please God and not disappoint Him. We ought to see ourselves in that boat and we ought to learn.