Poking the Sleeping Giant
I love a good surprise. I recall several years ago when my wife bought me a new laptop for Christmas. This was before the days of inexpensive computers and I was blown away by the generosity as well as the “childlike” fun of having a new “toy”! . I should be embarrassed to admit it, but I did get a little choked up. Truthfully, we had been in ministry for years and expensive gifts had never been a luxury we could afford…and as you may have guessed, I like electronics…and surprises.
The joy of a good surprise is found in the unexpected. The seemingly impossible hope becoming reality is what makes it so sweet. When was that last time you received a good surprise? What did you feel? What went through your mind? How did you react?
In my last blog (The God Who Sleeps), I referenced an account in the gospels where Jesus, exhausted from the constant demands of ministry to the hurting and needy crowds, fell asleep in a small fishing boat filled with his anxious disciples. This was a problem because while Jesus slept, his disciples battled a raging storm that threatened their lives. These seasoned fishermen knew firsthand that the volatile nature of the Sea of Galilee and its sudden, violent storms could easily take their lives. Terrified and out of options, one of the disciples shook Jesus awake with a frustrated accusation that could only come from someone filled with fear and desperate for help…
“and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:38b NASB
Behavioral experts say that fear and anger are closely related. I am not sure that the disciple who leveled this accusation at Jesus was first angry as much as he was scared. He was well aware that the men were about to drown and in the midst of such terror he drew the only conclusion he could imagine, “The Teacher truly doesn’t care, or if He does, I want Him to know I’m not happy with His lack of immediate concern!”. What this disciple did not…what he could not imagine is what would happen next…what would happen when you poke a “Sleeping Giant”…
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39 NIV
Suuuuurrrrpppppprrrrrriiiiiiiisssssse! I would love to have seen a snapshot of the dripping wet faces of the disciples who went from screaming, frantic, terrified and paralyzed with fear to stunned, jaw dropped silence. These men were Jesus’s closest companions. They lived with Him 24/7. They heard His amazing teaching. They witnessed the daily miracles of healing, deliverance and provision that took place through His hands. As good Jews, the only frame of reference that they had for such demonstrations of power was the Old Testament prophets from hundreds of years before their time. Stories of healing and miracles were recorded in the Hebrew scriptures. But this!? Speaking to nature? Commanding the rage of the world to cease? The sheer unbridled power of nature bowing to a mere command was beyond comprehension!? What in the…!?…How did He…!?…Who can…!?…Their stunned silence replaced by a torrent of terrified thoughts…
They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Mark 4:41 NASB
The situational irony that took place here is epic. Terrified of the storm one moment…terrified of the One who controls it in the next. But the lesson doesn’t stop there. It seems that the “Giant” has a few questions of His own…
And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40 NASB
Isn’t it strange how quickly our perspective can change when the “Giant” wakes up. The truth be known, He is never asleep. As I stated in my earlier post, many times in my fear, uncertainty and anger have I wondered if God really cared. Recently I have been reading through the book of Psalms and have been reminded how often the different writers poured out their fears and confusion in heartfelt prayer, awaiting the time when the “Giant”, the Lord would “awaken” and demonstrate His power and concern in the midst of their pain.
“Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His loving-kindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Then I said, “It is my grief, That the right hand of the Most High has changed.” Selah I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:7-11 NASB
“It is my….grief”….despair…hopelessness that can change the way we view God. You see, He doesn’t change, but heartache and longstanding difficulties, that aren’t easily resolved, can change our perspective on who God really is, if we yield to despair. So what does the Psalmist resolve to do? He sets his mind to remember how God has worked in the past. He purposes to remind himself that the Giant doesn’t really sleep…He is always at work, just not the way we always envision, as the disciples in the boat found out. He works in His time, in His way, for His good purposes…and yes, He uses pain to produce good.
Live long enough and hardships will come your way. Suffering and the subsequent confusion it produces is common to the human condition on this side of paradise. The hurt is not the result of a lack of faith, as some would have you believe, nor is it evidence of an apathetic God. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I write today as a fellow traveler, one who has wrestled the “Sleeping Giant”. I have experienced the unbridled joy of His Divine surprises. I have also endured the seemingly endless suffering of unanswered prayers. What I have learned along the way is that we cannot allow our current pain to be a hindrance to present faith. I have learned to worship the One who is worthy regardless of my pain. I have learned to remind myself of His faithfulness in times past…and I am learning these things are all dependent on the grace and strength He provides in the midst of the pain.
So how about you? Have you been poking the “Sleeping Giant”? I’m with you. Please share with me your comments or thoughts. I would love to pray for you so feel free to leave me any requests.
Grace in the journey,