Peace, Be Still

Master, the Tempest is Raging by Walter Rane

Master, the Tempest is Raging  by Walter Rane

“Fearful heart – Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance…and save you.”
Isaiah 35:4

“He who commands the sea
has command of everything.”
-Cicero

Hello, my name is Julie.  I am a recovering worry-aholic.

I worry about health, finances, the future, and about my kids’ safety.  I worry about computer crashes, brain glitches, and what people think of me.  The older I get, seems each season brings fresh reasons for fear.  Ugh.

Now, the other half of me isn’t quite as unravelled.  On the flip-side I am confident, composed, enthusiastic, and faithful.  This is the side everyone sees. Yet, more often than I’d like to admit, clouds of worry billow in, getting the best of me.  And I am fearful.

Can a person be full of faith and full of fear at the same time?  In my humble opinion – Yes.

The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith.  Fear comes to everyone.  Even Jesus was scared (Mark 14:33-35).  And it feels horrible.  Fear puts gray in your day, sucks the life out of you, and robs you of contentment.

But what if you could change that?  What if faith – not fear – was your knee-jerk reaction to troubles?  How would that be?  Being stress-less.  Imagine – a day, a week, or a month with absolutely NO fear.

Maybe this is what Jesus had in mind when he asked his disciples in the storm:

“Why are ye so fearful?”
Mark 4:40

At first, we wonder if he is joking.  Surely he can’t be serious.  Jesus and his disciples are in a small boat battling hurricane-force winds on the Galilean Sea.  This is the first of the disciples’ boat/storm experiences with Jesus (in the second, he had Peter walking on water and was teaching faith vs fear as well. I wrote a post about it here).  But this is their first time in a storm like this.  Two gospels record the experience.

Matthew recounts, “There arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves.”
Matthew 8:24

Mark describes how “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.”
Mark 4:37

The account says “they feared exceedingly” (Mark 4:41).  Can’t say I blame them.  Winds are howling, waves are towering, and their boat is about to sink.  This is terrifying!

In the boat with Jesus are seasoned fishermen and self proclaimed landlubbers.  Yet, the storm overwhelmed all of them.  When life storms come, what you know can only help you so far.  Logic tells you to take down the sails.  Experience tells you to keep bailing.  But there comes a point when the only hope of surviving is having a friend on board with ultimate experience.  So, the disciples look for Jesus, and they find him…asleep.

Stilling the Storm by Ted Henninger

Stilling the Storm  by Ted Henninger

Carest Thou Not that We Perish?

“And [Jesus] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
Mark 4:38

Jesus’ snooze troubles the disciples.
You can sense the panic.

“Lord, save us: we perish!”
Matthew 8:25

They don’t ask about Jesus’ knowledge:
Do you even know there is a storm?
They don’t question Jesus’ strength:
Do you have the ability to calm storms?
They don’t doubt Jesus’ know-how:
Do you have experience with storms?

No. They wonder if Jesus cares.
Carest thou not that we perish?

During our own storms, isn’t that the question we most want to know?  Does he care?
Our faith tells us that Jesus is on board.  We know he is with us.  But when winds wont let-up, and we’re neck-deep in swells, and treading breathless – we wonder:  Is he mindful of my turmoil?  Is he concerned for my pain?  Does he care?

This was the question of Mary Ann Baker.

Mary Ann Baker
Mary Ann Baker lived in Chicago in the mid 1800s.  When tuberculosis took the lives of her parents, she assumed responsibility of her brother and sister.  They didn’t have much, but at least they had their faith and each other.  That faith was tested when Mary’s brother contracted tuberculosis, the same disease that had killed her parents.  Not wanting him to suffer the same fate, Mary and her sister scraped together what little money they could to move their brother to Florida in hopes that the warmer climate would help him recover.

For a time, he improved.  They were hopeful.  Then, suddenly he took a turn for the worse and within a few weeks, he died.  Mary was inconsolable.  Her parents were taken, now her brother.  What’s worse, Mary did not have money left to attend the funeral, much less bring his body home for burial.  That’s when she sank into a deep depression and cursed God.

“God does not care for me or mine,” she said.
“This particular manifestation of what they call ‘divine providence’ is unworthy of a God of love.”

It was unfathomable that a loving Heavenly Father would take so much and allow her to hurt so deeply.  So Mary questioned.  She questioned God’s love.  She doubted he cared.

“I have always tried to believe on Christ and give the Master a consecrated life,” she said, “but this is more than I can bear.  What have I done to deserve this?  What have I left undone that God should wreak His vengeance upon me in this way?”
(Ernest K. Emurian, “Living Stories of Famous Hymns, Boston”: WA Widdle Co., 1955, 83-85)

It was not what Mary had left undone, but what God was preparing her to do.

As days turned into weeks, Mary’s heart began healing and she turned back to her faith, volunteering as a Sunday School teacher at the Second Baptist Church in Chicago.  It was at this time that the choir director, Horatio R. Palmer, noticed Mary’s talent for poetry and asked her to write words for a series of songs he would compose for the Sunday School’s curriculum.

She agreed. Drawing from her recent heart-wrenching experience, she penned the words to, Master, the Tempest is Raging.

From the original hymnal in 1876

First published as Peace, Be Still, in an 1876 hymnal

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.

Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!

Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul,
And I perish!  I perish!  dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!

refrain:
The winds and the waves shall obey my will;
Peace, be still!  Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.

They all shall sweetly obey my will.
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey my will.
Peace, peace, be still!

No Waters Can Swallow the Ship where lies the Master of Ocean and Earth and Skies
Fear is paralyzing.  If we linger on it too much, it can lead to hopelessness and despair. Mary learned that even though storms come, with a Savior on board, we are protected. Maybe we won’t be preserved from the rocking boat, or shielded from the drenching rain – the storm will still be the storm.  But with the Savior on board – it will not harm us.  So call on the Savior.  That’s what the disciples did.

And [Jesus] arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful?…
And they said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Mark 4:39-41

Fear may fill the world around us, but it does not have to fill our hearts.  So, when dark clouds form overhead and you feel your heart beginning to fear, put your faith in the Master of ocean and earth and skies.  He will come and still your storm.

Peace, Be Still by Arnold Friberg

Peace, Be Still  by Arnold Friberg

Peace, Be Still
Does your Savior care?  I’ll leave you with Mary Ann Baker’s testimony.

Master, the terror is over.
The elements sweetly rest.
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast.

Linger, Oh, blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore.

 

source:  Howard W. Hunter, Master the Tempest is Raging, General Conference talk, 1984
 

 

 

 
They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.

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