We drove our car into the belly of the huge boat. We got out of the car and wandered through that massive, dark, underwater parking lot. We could feel the gentle sway under our feet, even while anchored in the harbor.
A cool breeze blew up off of the Bristol Channel, and we stood on the deck of the ferry and waited for the boat to ease out into the water. We were on our way to Ireland with an 8-hour ferry ride ahead of us.
The sun set into the water as the boat rotated towards the west, so we retreated back down into our tiny room. It was eight weeks square and held two miniature bunk beds. The storm began after we had already fallen asleep. I woke up to a violent pitching that nearly rolled me out of my bunk. The bottom of the huge ferry crashed down against the waves, then rose up again.
I kept waiting for water to flood down the stairwells and into our room.
* * * * *
Then I imagine the disciples being in a tiny fishing boat, adrift at sea, surging up and down as the storm gathers. Waves wash over the sides, pooling water in the bottom of the boat. Lightning explodes in the sky. The wind lashes them with rain. They look to the miracle man, the one who has healed many people, the one they’ve begun to put their trust in. But he’s asleep.
They’ve seen him do amazing things, but they don’t know how to respond in the face of his apparent apathy.
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
* * * * *
There are things the disciples don’t say:
The disciples don’t simply shout, “We’re going to die!”
They don’t cry out, “Save us!”
They even refrain from the question I hear so often, “Why are you letting this happen?”
No, the first words out of their mouth give a voice to one of my gravest concerns about God:
“Don’t you care…?”
Don’t you care about cancer? Don’t you care that I don’t have any income? Don’t you care about all the vulnerable children in the world?
And in the face of that blame-filled question, Jesus gets out a can of rebuke. But he doesn’t direct that rebuke at the person asking the question – he directs the rebuke at the wind and the waves. He doesn’t rebuke their doubt about whether or not he cares – he rebukes the difficult circumstances.
Then he turns to them, because they are still afraid. It’s only after the calm has settled in that he asks them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
* * * * *
I’m still searching for conclusions regarding this story of Jesus and the storm, but one thing is clear to me:
God is not offended by the question, “Don’t you care?”