We all know the famous “shortest verse” in the Gospels ... Jesus wept. It was in response to His coming upon the scene of Lazarus’ grave, encountering Lazarus’ sisters, and His humanity and divinity responding with compassion and love. It is a beautiful moment, a real moment, and a reminder that tears are not despair as much as catalyst of desire to see Heaven meet earth. However, there is another powerful phrase and moment that we remember less in the Gospels… Jesus slept.
23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.NLT
I think one translation of this passage says, “Without warning…”. The disciples were caught off guard, and they were in a panic, but Jesus slept. The story goes on to say they woke Jesus, He confronts their fear and doubt, speaks with authority and power causing the storm to disappear, and the disciples are amazed (once again) at Who Jesus was.
Jesus was not caught off guard… they were. Jesus was not in a panic… they were. Jesus dismissed the storm without being dismissive of it. There was a moment that needed to be addressed, but Jesus didn’t panic like His disciples did. The result was not just that the storm went away, but that a lesson was offered that it was going to be ok because God was there.
How often do we assume that God is asleep? Meaning, how often do we think God has forgotten about us because we don’t see Him doing anything? Our panic comes when we think we have lost hope… but God never loses hope. He has never been caught unaware of what you are going through, but He is also not overwhelmed by it.
In my experience as a leader, there are times that I am working behind the scenes on an issue that most under my leadership don’t even know exists. When people become aware, it is easy for them to panic / doubt / question / react because it came “without warning.” However, behind the scenes, without fanfare or attempting to “cover myself”, I have been working on the solution to a problem that was not even known to the masses. I have also found that a person who is in panic wants those he or she goes to for answers to be in panic mode as well. If not, then it is easy for them to think that the leader is unaware… is unconcerned… is unqualified or unable to help and must be dismissed. I have had people come to me to make me aware of a nuclear-sized problem and be aghast that did not fall to my knees in dispair about their issue that was greater than all issues. In a moment of doubt of competence or lack of understanding, they say, “Oh, you must not know what’s really happening…” My response (at least in my head, and sometimes on my lips) is, “Oh I know about it… but I’m just not freaking out like you are.”
This past Sunday at City Church Dayton, a woman shared about her brother being in a motorcycle wreck. She told of how she learned about the wreck and immediately began to petition God for her brother’s health. She explained that as the details emerged regarding the miracle that was her brother’s survival, she discovered that she had found out about the accident some 2 hours after the miracles were needed. She told the church, “Even before I knew what to pray, God was already working in response to my prayers.” Wow!
You don’t see what is happening behind the scenes all of the time. Pray for our leaders, because they are working in ways we don’t know, at times we don’t know, on things that we don’t even know about. Trust in God, because He is working on our behalf even when we don’t know there is a need to pray for. He is not ever caught unaware by what we panic about. We might think He is “asleep,” but He is simply aware of Who He is, that the winds and waves obey His command, and that His Name is greater than any other name on earth (and beyond).