When God Doesn’t Show Up

It’s been a crazy long day. Jesus and his disciples get in a boat, and Jesus directs his friends to head across the sea of Galilee. Now Jesus is super tired. So as soon as he’s in the boat, he crashes. He’s fast asleep. So soundly is he sleeping, in fact, that he doesn’t wake up even when the water starts getting choppy. Even when the winds start whipping about and a huge storm hits the lake. Even when the sky opens up and the rain starts pouring down. The disciples, many of them experienced fishermen, are doing everything they can just to keep the boat from sinking, and I’m sure in between every stroke of the oar, they’re cutting their eyes over to where Jesus is sleeping, wondering why in the world he… And as wave after wave hits, their panic grows. They start wondering if this has been more than a long day–maybe it’s their last day. Their fear rises up inside them, and so does their frustration. Their anger. Their doubts. 

Isn’t that our story right now, many of us?

We’re in the boat with Jesus, but the storm’s hitting hard right now. Sickness. Broken relationships. Money struggles. Unexpected events that threaten to turn your world upside down. 

And there’s no sign that it’s going to stop. And in the middle of the storm you’re doing everything you can. Every single thing you can think of to try. And Jesus, it seems, is doing nothing. 

What happens inside of you when you’re doing everything you know to do, and it feels like God’s not showing up?

Do you cry out to him in your confusion and fear and anger? Are you open with God about your feelings? Do you keep your mouth shut and keep rowing, shoving those feelings aside? Do you get all passive-aggressive with Jesus, and roll your eyes and glare at him all the time you’re rowing the boat? Do you start looking for another boat to jump into? 

In the storm story in Mark chapter 4, the disciples try to handle their fear and frustration on their own for a while. But eventually, they take it to Jesus. They wake him up and ask the question we all want to ask sometimes: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

The answer of course is yes.

And in this particular case, Jesus calms the storm.

What’s more challenging is to believe that the answer is still yes when Jesus doesn’t calm the storm. To believe that it is good and right to keep going to him then. To believe that he can still be trusted. Even when it feels like he’s asleep. Even when you’ve got hard things to say to him. Even when you’re mad as hell about the storm that’s raging in your life and in your soul. Even then.

Even when you wait for God. And he doesn’t show up.

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