Pentecost 4

Mark 4:35-41 

A Reflection

Marian Free

In the name of God who is present with us in all life’s circumstances. Amen.

 A soldier was captured by his enemies and tossed into a prison cell. He knew that in the morning he would be tortured, even killed. As he tossed and turned, he remembered the words: “Do not be anxious for the morrow.” With those words ringing in his ears he fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

In today’s gospel, the disciples are in a boat with Jesus. As is common on the Lake of Galilee, a violent storm suddenly arises, tossing the boat on the waves, filling it with water and terrifying the disciples. Despite the fact that Jesus was in the boat with the disciples, they were unable to relax and to trust that everything would be OK. They cried out in anguish and accused Jesus of not caring about what might happen to them.

Jesus’ response to the storm is quite different. Even though the boat was being hurled around on the waves, and the storm raged about him Jesus was able to sleep unperturbed (that is, until he was woken!). Throughout his life and especially towards its end, Jesus demonstrated a trust in God that was unshakeable – even in the most awful of circumstances. In the face of extreme temptation in the desert, Jesus’ trust in God was steadfast. In the face of severe criticism from the leaders of the establishment, Jesus held firm. Confronted with the most terrible form of torture and death, Jesus never wavered in his resolve. Throughout it all, Jesus remained confident that God was with him and that God would never abandon him.

In comparison, the disciples seem to have learned nothing from their time with Jesus. As Jesus rests, oblivious to the storm and to the concerns of his friends, they fret and worry about their future, crying out in fear and terrified that they would perish.

How like the disciples many of us are. Despite our claims of faith our comfortable recitation of scripture like the 23rd Psalm, many of us waste time and energy worrying about things which may or may not happen. Too many of us are so focussed on the future that we fail to enjoy the present. Instead of placing our trust solely in God, we toss and turn in the face of life’s difficulties. We rely on our own abilities instead of having confidence that God will see us through.

For a few minutes, think of life as a boat in which God is holding you safely. When the storms rage around you, do you like Jesus place all your trust in God? Are you able to place your life completely in God’s hands? Are there anxieties and worries that you can lay to rest today?

You might like to spend some time reflecting on the sentences of scripture below. I find the two prayers useful for when I wake in the morning and before I go to sleep. (At least at those two points in the day) I make myself aware that I have chosen to place my life in God’s hands.

Scripture and prayers to remind you to trust in God

A prayer of St Francis:

Lord help me to live this day quietly, easily,

to lean on your great strength trustfully, restfully,

to wait for the unfolding of your will patiently, serenely,

to greet others peacefully, joyfully

to face tomorrow confidently, courageously.

Psalm 4:8

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;

for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

Psalm 91

God will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

Psalm 121

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in

from this time on and forevermore.

Psalm 131

I have  calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother,

Isaiah 49:16

I will not forget you

See I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.

Jeremiah 28:11

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,

plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Matthew 6:34

Do not worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will have enough worries of its own.

From the New Zealand Prayer Book (Compline            It is night after along day.

What has been done is done;

what has not been done has not been done.

let it be.

Thank God for God’s presence with you in all the circumstances of your life.

Let us pray:

In this storm tossed life

   give us the courage to face the obstacles that lie before us

      the confidence to trust in your love for us

          and the faith to know that you will never abandon us. Amen.


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