Why are you afraid?

“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Matt 8:24-:26) 

I suppose that even the most faith-filled Christian would experience some level of fear if they found themselves in a situation like the above. But I know that a doctor delivering news of a life-threatening diagnosis, a loss of a job and insensitive debt-collectors calling day-after-day, can instill that same kind of “Save us, Lord; we are perishing” fear.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know if we have genuine faith until that faith is tested. I believe this is the reason that Jesus allowed His disciples, and us, to go through so many of these nail-biting situations. Trials force us off of the proverbial fence. Tested faith is enduring and overcoming faith; it’s faith that can empathize with and encourage others who find themselves in the midst of a raging storm – those who are feeling as if Jesus is asleep in the boat.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3)

Faith (in Christ) is the opposite of and the antidote to fear. But like all antidotes it takes time to work and the quicker we start building faith, the more effective it will be. We build faith (overcome fear) by reading the Bible, through prayer and by surrounding ourselves with faith-filled people.

Faith is also preventive medicine. When faced with a life-altering situation, the person of great faith will experience little fear and the person of little faith will experience great fear. So, if you’re not going through a trial now, start building your faith because the Bible tells us we’ll all face trials.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

It seems that Jesus attempted to strengthen the faith of His disciples before getting in that boat. That day, the disciples saw Jesus heal a leper, a paralyzed man, Peter’s sick mother-in-law and then, for a grand finale, just before stepping in the boat and sailing into the storm, “…they brought to (Jesus) many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.” (Matthew 8:16)

Obviously Jesus knew that His disciples would face this test of faith just as He knows when our trials are coming. It might seem like He’s asleep, but if we rely on Him to deliver us from the trial, we won’t wonder, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” like the men in that storm-tossed boat; we’ll be able to answer that question emphatically as those same men were able to do soon after this incident; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

As I said above, everyone will eventually face something that they are powerless to handle in their own physical and/or emotional strength. This is the place where we discover how weak and fragile we are and how big and powerful God is.

 “…we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction…that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead…” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)


About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, at the age of 36, I was diagnosed with ALS. The neurologist gave me 3-5 years to live. 24 years later... :-) I'm completely paralyzed and unable to speak. By God's grace and the great care of my wife, I'm still here. I live to encourage and give hope to others going through difficult times.

Posted on September 5, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Describing the context of that event – the miracles Christ had performed – puts it in perspective and makes the Lord’s comment more meaningful: they had seen all of this and yet they still feared. I guess it’s like our lives – we have all these good experiences, occasions where God saves us or reassures us, etc. – and we still so often forget about it when something difficult comes along. Thanks for providing that context.


  2. My mum once said that sometimes, God takes power and authority from a parent’s hand over their child for his own purpose. Lately, I’ve been feeling like God was not with me and I’m alone. I’ve been expecting good news because if I got it, it means God is with me. Well, so far, THREE YEARS later, I haven’t gotten any good news. It’s a struggle and I laugh now at the fact it’s been three years, but it hasn’t been that funny 🙂 I’ve cried a lot but through your blog, I know now God never left me. I kind of knew that already but I shrugged him off in pride. Thank you. I’m glad you looked at my blog. I wouldn’t have found you otherwise.


    • Lola, I know what it feels like when it seems that God’s abandoned you. But our faith is not a “feeling,” like marriage, it’s a commitment; I’ve found that the times I matured the most in my faith was during those periods when I didn’t “feel” God’s presence; it is during those times that we’re looking for Him and we grow in faith when we’re searching.
      “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)


  3. Bill, you are a beautiful writer with an even more beautiful faith. There’s nothing that reaches our hearts like the Truth.

    Your story + Scripture = Incredible healing to the world.

    Keep going…


  4. I’d never noticed the timing, that Jesus gave the disciples opportunities to strengthen their faith just before the boat ride. And He still does that. Isn’t He good to us?

    Thanks for this call to build our faith in preparation for what’s next, and for the reminder that our God is strong enough to care for us.


  5. Reblogged this on One Tenth Blog.


  6. Excellent. Faith is such a worthwhile topic. You did a great job with it.


  7. shelleywilliamsblog



  8. Because I used to be tossed around by wild mood swings (I am bipolar), I learned to look to see if Jesus was addressing me with a stabilizing command, or merely sleeping peacefully in the boat. If he were at peace, I used to tell myself to just lie down next to him and trust that all really was well. I got through a lot of restless days and nights by putting my head on his pillow and telling myself the boat was not going to sink and I was not going to drown.

    Thank you for reminding me of those nights, Bill. It is a blessed thing to share the Word with a brother.



  9. Reblogged this on A walk in the Word and commented:
    This is a wonderful picture of faith. Faith us to be desired above all things. There is in fact nothing so valuable to any man as faith in the Great I Am.


  10. You write: “Unfortunately, we don’t really know if we have genuine faith until that faith is tested. I believe this is the reason that Jesus allowed His disciples, and us, to go through so many of these nail-biting situations. Trials force us off of the proverbial fence.” Isn’t that so true! We think we trust, but if we trust in the test, then we know we trust.


  11. Thank you for the reminder and the wonderful encouragement. Indeed, we can’t be sure of our faith until is is tested. But if Jesus is in the same boat we’re in, we can be sure He won’t let it sink!


  12. Praise God to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
    Thank God we have brothers and sisters in Christ who share their experiences and how they have built their faith up to face the storms of life.
    Thank you for the reminder. We never walk alone.. we have God, each other and yes, our personal relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Father. If He be for us who can be against us?

    God bless you for your courage and faith.


  13. Bill, I’ve nominated you for 2 blog awards: the Super Sweet Award and the Thought Provoking Award. You can get the information on my blog. I’d be honoured if you’d accept.


  14. I believe trials shape us and cause us to cast our eyes and eyes more on Him

    Christ the faithful shepherd picks the beaten up sheep in His loving arms and carries it through the worst of life’s trials

    thank you for your visit and your post of encouragement


  15. A great, great message! Thanks for the words of encouragement.


  16. Bill, I’m thankful to come upon your blog. I’m a Christian nurse and so I deal with suffering as a fact of life. Thank you for sharing your journey with ALS. God is obviously working through you to teach us about faith, trust, redemptive suffering.


  17. Well written my brother !!


  18. I usually think of our trials the way I think of weight training. It takes time. You can’t simply decide to be strong and then be strong. Thank goodness we get practice in small trials before the big ones come. If anyone feels inundated by a lot of little issues, she should give thanks for the strength it is building for the day when faith is assaulted in some dramatic way.
    Yet there is an even bigger lesson in our trials small or large. Christ is in the boat. No matter how weak we feel or how inept, Christ is there. It really isn’t all about what we can do, because the most important thing we ever do is turn to Christ.
    Thank you for a thougtful and prayer-inspiring post.


  19. Thanks for the gentle reminder. Faith, more precious than gold, being refined in the fire! Blessings


  20. Thank you for such an encouraging post. Jesus might look like He is asleep in our boat, but our faith can “see” that He is not. I will picture this in my mind & heart during the next storm. ~ Wendy


  21. I love this passage of Scripture. It is so easy to give in to fear sometimes when you look about you instead of what Jesus said. In Matt. 8:18 it says that He gave them orders that they were to go over to the other side. I’m going thru a time like this and am so grateful He gave me the word we were going to the other side first 🙂 Thanks for your post! Great reminder!


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