Pastoral Note 26 Feb 2022 – RIDING THE WAVE IN THE STORM

26 Feb 2022


35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:35-41 – NIV)

Dear beloved Frankelites,

How are you feeling? 

The news is grim. Russia has struck Ukraine. The international markets will rattle even as world governments wrestle with a swift and suitable response. While it is a war geographically far away from us, the shock waves of lives lost and people displaced will no doubt ripple out. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, that the situation there does not escalate further. This is not the first time acts of aggression of this scale have threatened to steal our peace. And it will certainly not be the last. 

Meanwhile, we are still coping with that other more immediate viral scourge. While the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel seems within sight, there is no doubt we are currently riding the peak of the Omicron wave. Suddenly, everyone knows someone who has caught the virus, or is on Health Risk Notice. 

The Council and church staff have been praying for a number of Frankelites who had been infected. If you are one of those who had recently contracted COVID-19, inform your leaders and shepherds so as to be assured of continued prayers for your healing and recovery. Do take the time to rest and secure the needed medication. 

It is understandably disconcerting for those navigating omicron with vulnerable seniors or unvaccinated young children in their care. With this variant being highly infectious, many have chosen to ride it out with as little additional exposure as possible. 

It can also be draining for those who are living in close proximity to those infected – having to care for them and, at the same time, take the necessary precautions. 

For some, it has hit much closer to home, as it did for me when my wife was diagnosed with it. Though you supposedly know what’s to be done, seeing the unexpected second line on your ART kit has a way of throwing you off, let alone any well laid-out plans you may have made. 

How can we stay calm and persevere in the midst of this and other disruptions?

In the account of the sudden storm in Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and the disciples were in the midst of executing their daily to-do’s. Going from place to place sometimes meant taking the boat across the Sea of Galilee where most of their ministry revolved, where the people were. In some sense, there was no avoiding the occasional storm if one depended on being out at sea as a matter of course. 

Yet what happened in this sudden storm gives us encouragement in three ways.

First, we see that even when our Saviour is with us (Jesus was physically with his disciples on the boat), sudden storms can still come at us. These may not only be sudden but severe. Many of the disciples were experienced fishermen and they knew the Sea of Galilee is a setting for the perfect storm, yet that evening, they were still shocked by the severity of it all. As long as we are on this old earth, we will still be subject to the consequences of sin and the fallen nature. And they can hit us hard. The encouragement here is that Jesus is with us even through these storms.

Second, sometimes our Saviour may not seem to respond to the storm but he surely hears our cries. Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat. But when they yelled out to Him for help, even as we, in crisis, honestly unload our feelings and fears on Him, he hears. (“Do you not care? The disciples accused Jesus.) He responds. Fear can immobilize us, as it did the disciples.  But when bad things suddenly happen in our lives, our Lord is longing for us to look to Him and to call out to Him. Instead of succumbing to the noisy barrage of bad news, he wants us to hear the Spirit whisper His comfort and assurance from His word: “Be strong and very courageous. I am your helper. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5,6).

The final and single most important encouragement here is that our God is sovereign and in control. Like Moses at the Red Sea, Jesus could have simply stilled the waves without saying a word, but that wasn’t his modus operandi here. I believe it is to our benefit that we hear him command the storm, “Hush, be still.” The winds and waves obeyed this demonstration of faith. In like manner, He who made us can still the storms in our hearts, if we but let Him. 

Brothers and sisters, Jesus challenges us to remember His promises. Let Him have our hearts as we pray and let him lead us by the hand, crisis by crisis, day by day. His grace will once again be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). Remember, Jesus can use every circumstance and storm to develop us. He can use it to shape us for good if we love and follow Him (Romans 8:28). 

This miracle was done well before Jesus went to the Cross. Today, we know God had sovereignly demonstrated his greatest miracle with far greater consequences – doing what only he could engineer and execute – Jesus’ perfect sacrificial death and resurrection to save us from our wretched and fleeting lives into one that is free and eternal. In the book of Hebrews, we have been reminded how “he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9). Because Jesus conquered sin and death, so shall we. And He will return to complete his restoration work for all who have entrusted their hearts to Him, making new and whole all that has been broken and marred (be it bodies, nature, relationships, work etc) in the new heavens and new earth. 

May the Lord encourage all our hearts with His word. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23).

He is near.

In Christ,

Elder Danny Chua
Chairman, BFEC