35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
I, like other addicts, find myself in the midst of temptation quite frequently. Small choices that would seem to have no impact on the decision to give in will often build together and result in a fall.
I will accidentally engineer situations in which I am in a position to give in to my weakness. Perhaps, sometimes, I will even purposefully engineer such a situation. My desire, after all, is entirely after my own flesh.
Perhaps you're the same, where you find yourself trapped in some perpetual sin and in the moment of struggle you aren't sure what to do. Your body is weak, your will is gone, and all you want to do is get the high.
The rest of the world will give you all sorts of useless advice: Remember what coming down feels like, think about how disappointed your mom will be, call your sponsor. The problem with these steps is that they all require you to want to stop, and in the moment we rarely want to stop.
The truth is: In the moment of sin we want to continue! Nothing satisfies your flesh quite like the sweet taste of sin, no matter the cost.
So what do we do in these situations? The short section of Mark that I opened this with gives us the perfect solution. If there is even a moment's hesitation, which there often is, use it to cry out to the Lord.
The disciples were told by our Lord to get in the boat and set sail for the other side. Jesus told them, confidently, that they were headed to the other side of the water. Yet, when the storm rose against the ship, they were filled with fear and ran to wake him up.
He calmed the storm in their life and then immediately rebuked them for their lack of faith.
Now, I need to be careful here. There are a great many heretics and Word of Faith types that will tell you that the greater message is that God can 'calm the storms of your life'. While that can be true, that is not the greater message.
Truly, the message of the passage is that, even when things seem rough, even when you're in the midst of sin, and the midst of trouble, you should have the faith that the disciples lacked.
You should trust in the Lord, who promised to bring you through waters that the devil could not cross. While there is of course the promise of God being an ever present help in times of trouble, truly the greatest blessing we learn from this passage is that the Lord as assured us that he will carry us to the other side of the waters!
You have been brought through the waters in your baptism.
St. Peter tell us that just as Noah was brought through the flood waters, and Moses after him brought the people safely through the Red Sea, so we are brought through the waters of our baptism. In baptism we are ferried through death and into life.
This life will have problems, and trials, and sin. There is no escape from the fall in a fallen world. But we have assurance that, no matter how fierce the storm, we have already been carried through the water by the Mighty Hand of our Lord, and that we will safely step on the shore one day.
Though feel free to call out.
Please do not think that I'm advocating you just suffer through when things get bad. You should keep your mind on the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, but you should also call on His name.
As the Lord tells us through the second commandment: We should call upon the Name Lord in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks in His name.
Like the disciples, we sometimes forget that we are promised a safe path through the storms of this life. When things get bad we should call upon the Lord, never fearing but always trusting. We know that God will save us, his dear children, from every trouble.
When you find yourself in the midst of temptation, and you feel it is too much to bear on your own, cry out to God. Let Christ carry the weight that you cannot. The Lord never promised to keep us from trouble, and (despite popular thinking) there is no promise that we can bear up whatever temptation is given to us. The real promise of God, however, is that He will always be there to carry what we cannot.
Remember to cry out to God, and remember that he will carry you through the storm when you do.
A short prayer for courage
Almighty and Benevolent God, I adjure you to save me now for I am perishing. This storm threatens to consume me, body and soul, and leave nothing left. Rise up against my enemy, O' God, and strengthen me in faith. Take this burden from me and bear it up yourself, for You Alone are able to carry it. I thank you for the salvation you have given me, and thank you that, through my baptism, you have carried me safely through the waters. I ask this help of you in the name of your dear son, Jesus Christ, who won my salvation on the Cross. Amen.