If We Perish, Does God Care?

I recently read Mark 4 about Jesus calming the storm.  Once again I was grabbed by the words of the disciples, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”  For me that one sentence has always been central to the story.  Other people focus on Jesus calming the storm, and it is an awesome miracle story.  But I have always been more focused on the very human question, “do you not care if we perish?”

Sometimes, when we are tossed about in the stormy sea of life, we can wonder if God cares.  If God cares for me, why do I feel so overwhelmed?  Why is life so hard?  People die of violence and evil every day.  Does God care?  As I think about the disciples in the story of Mark, I wonder how bad the storm had to be for a bunch of fisherman to think they were going to perish.  When the waves break over our heads, over the sides of our boat.  When we are awash in water and buffeted by wind that threatens to overturn the boat, does God care?

“Does God care?” is one of the most basic questions in the Christian life.  I believe God cares intimately about us and each part of our lives, but he cares more about the relationship than the day-in, day-out details.  He even cares more about our relationship with him than he does about whether we live or die.  God loves us and cares for us every day.  Jesus stilled a storm for his disciples.  He can help us have peace in the storms of life as well.

I love this poem by Winfred Ernest Garrison.  You might have heard part of it before.  John F. Kennedy kept the first two lines on a plaque on his desk in the Oval Office.

Breton Fisherman’s Prayer

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt

Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small.
It cannot be that any happy fate
Will me befall
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I curb and bit them on the long
And saltry trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?

Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.

God cares if we perish.  The sea is so big and our boat so small.  But if we have God riding the waves with us, we will come through the storm.