Spiritual Reflection – Fear & Uncertainty
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NRSV)
The Gospel of Mark presents us with a story of Jesus teaching a large crowd by the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and then getting into a boat with his disciples to cross over to the land on the opposite side. However, before they can reach the other side, they are caught in a sudden and violent storm, which threatens to swamp their boat. Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat, and the disciples are fearful for their lives.
Why might the disciples have been afraid, even though Jesus was them?
Finally, once he has been roused from his sleep by the disciples, Jesus calms both the wind and the sea. He then asks the disciples, “Have you still no faith?” Note the use by Jesus of the word ‘still’ – have you still no faith? This is obviously not the first time that Jesus has observed a lack of belief, or the presence of doubt, in the minds of his disciples.
Why do you think there is still doubt in the minds of the disciples, even after they have witnessed Jesus performing various miracles?
Are fear and uncertainty more powerful than faith or belief?
Has your own faith or belief been tested by fear and uncertainty?
Fearful for their lives, it appears that the disciples’ primal instinct of self-preservation, is stronger than their belief and confidence in Jesus. While they might indeed have had faith in Jesus, their faith is still a work in progress. They are still on a journey to understand their faith.
The same is no doubt true for us. Regardless of how long we have been people of faith, we are all still on the journey of faith, seeking to deepen our faith and our relationship with God.
As we heard recently through the parable of the ‘Seed Secretly Growing’, the development of a person’s faith, or their belief in Jesus and the kingdom of God, takes its own natural course, much like the seed sown by the farmer, who goes about his daily work and life leaving the seed to its natural growth process. It is not something that can be hurried or forced. It is also something that is not visible, and that goes by largely unnoticed. But that doesn’t mean there is no growth or development taking place.
We might feel at times that our faith is mature and well formed, but then with the of experience personal tragedy or disaster, or if we are faced with great fear and uncertainty, we can find ourselves feeling somewhat like the disciples on the boat in the storm. That fear and uncertainty might be stronger than our faith – and that’s okay.
We need to remind ourselves that, as the disciples were, we are still on the journey of faith. And just as they fell short of expectations at times, and struggled to grasp and understand exactly who Jesus was, we too will have moments of doubt, and times when our faith is challenged. But the disciples are also examples of how faith wins out in the end.