Have you ever felt as if your courage and strength may not hold up to some of the challenges of life? Sometimes we get frustrated with life and things seem too hard to be done. I remember the first sermon I ever preached. I was 18 years old. I was petrified of preaching. I was not a public speaker. I had no idea what I was doing.
I remember standing at the end of the aisle before worship getting ready to walk down the aisle. We were just waiting for the prelude to stop. My heart was pounding. My hands were sweaty and cold. My whole body had a slight shake to it and I thought that my knees might buckle underneath me. In my mind I was thinking to myself, “It’s not too late to turn around and run away” alternated with “What have I gotten myself into? I can’t do this”. I was petrified of people staring at me and even more scared of sharing with people my thoughts on the scriptures and how I had come to know God’s work in my young life.
Public speaking was a HUGE fear of mine since I was a young child. I could barely handle concerts where I was one of 35 students singing together. Obviously, I went through with my first sermon and it took many, many more for me to gain a comfort with being in front of people. I think we all have those things that strike fear into our hearts, those things the brush up against phobias. Yet sometimes the very things that scare us are exactly what God calls us to come to terms with. Sometimes God calls us to exercise trust and confidence in his presence and will. Sometimes like David we need to take a deep breath and move forward.
How many of us would have done what David did as a boy? David volunteered to face a 9 ½ foot giant who had access to the very best and latest in armor and weapons, who was a well seasoned warrior in a one on one battle to the death. It wasn’t that David did not have fear. He most certainly did. It wasn’t that he had some secret ability or power that no one else had. And it wasn’t that David was making a foolish and stupid decision. But rather David was exercising his trust and faith in God. He was so passionate about God, believing God to be his source of strength, that he willing did what others had deemed impossible. We too are sometimes called to trust in God and to do what we might fear, to do what we and others have deemed a lost cause. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do”.
By doing the impossible, by facing what people have feared most, humanity has done wondrous works in the name of God. They trusted the path that God was calling them to go down. Sometimes, we are called to do hard things. Sometimes, we are asked to be more than what we currently are and sometimes we must face our fears and our demons to do so. Sometimes we must trust that of God walks with us.
For the early Christians in Rome, of Mark’s time, they needed this boost of faith and confidence. Most people when faced with peril and danger do not trust in others or God as freely as David did. The early Christians faced peril and danger every single day as they walked down the streets in Nero controlled Rome. Nero blamed the Christians for his mistakes as a ruler and had them hunted by their very neighbors for their supposed crimes. The early Christians that Mark wrote this gospel for lived each day in fear. Yet this narrative of Jesus and his disciples in the boat would have given them confidence and courage to continue on in faith and to continue to live into the tenants of their faith.
Here we see the disciples and Jesus are in a storm and Jesus sleeps as the disciples are faced with peril. In their times of peril, they acted out their fears, fears than what the average person of today might feel. They felt abandoned in their hardship. Yet when Jesus is awakened to make an accounting of his seeming lack of concern for his friends, Jesus says, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Jesus is calling his disciples to have more faith, to trust in his love, even when it is difficult to do so, especially when it is difficult to do so.
Our God is not a God that we can physically see. We don’t have the option to go and wake him to demand an accounting of what we think is callousness. We must trust as David had to. We must trust as the disciples could not do. We must trust that God is always present, that God will be our source of strength and confidence in life, if we allow him to be. So this week, allow the love of God to shine into your lives, allow for God’s presence to be your source of inspiration, to be your strength in the challenging times of life and walk confidently into his work each and every day, even if that work strikes uncertainty in your hearts. Go forth and know that God is with you in all that you do and let that build you up into the people that God desires you to be for tomorrow. Go forth and face the demons of the world around us and live committedly the Christian life: a life of love, peace, and care for all peoples. And when your fears get in the way hear Jesus’ words from today as if they are spoken to you, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”
 Eleanor Roosevelt, 20th century.
 Mark 4: 39, RSV.
(Based on 1 Samuel 17: 1, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49 and Mark 4: 35-41)