Both my small children used to be prone to ear infections when they got colds, and as they are sixteen months apart in age, when my oldest got the sniffles, the younger usually dutifully contracted them as well. After some sleepless nights upset by painful crying, I would watch anxiously whenever I saw signs of congestion. I couldn’t wait for winter to be over, and with it, the ongoing threat of illness.
One evening as I apprehensively watched my youngest for signs that her ears were bothering her again, I felt the LORD drawing me to Mark 6:45-52. In this passage, Jesus sends His disciples ahead of Him on a boat, and while He is still back on the land, the boat is caught up in a storm in the middle of the sea. As the disciples are straining at the oars, Jesus intends to walk by them. But His disciples perceive Him to be a ghost, and cry out in fear. It is then that Jesus gets into the boat with them and the wind stops. Scripture reports, “They were utterly astonished.” It is verse 52 that the Holy Spirit drew to my attention: “for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, for their heart was hardened.”
This passage of scripture immediately follows the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand. So when Jesus sends out His disciples after they witness this miracle of the loaves and fishes, it is a kind of test for them. But in the middle of a storm, they do not recognize Jesus in the midst of it and instead are overcome with fear. Their failure of this test is that they hadn’t gained any insight from the previous miracle because their heart was hardened.
As I meditated on Mark 6 that night, I realized that my dread of more sickness was a failure on my part to trust God and to recognize the authority that I had by the blood of Christ to defeat whatever sickness might be trying to steal the peace and joy in our household. Had I not just witnessed His goodness and kindness in dazzling ways, according to all the accounts in my prayer journal? Had He left me, or had my fear simply blinded me to His presence? Then and there I began to proclaim God’s faithfulness and my children’s wellness.
As fear seeks to take on new features in a desperate political and economical climate, in personal setbacks, in violence reported lately in our neighborhood, in adversity, I am again reminded of that night that God sought to make me aware not of my circumstances, but of the condition of my heart. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), and as such, faith should be growing daily stronger, as should be the ability to recognize the One who moves in the midst of the storms.