“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3 (ESV ).
Rembrandt’s painting of Jesus asleep in the boat with the disciples brilliantly depicts the chaos of the scene. The disciples appear to be hanging on for dear life, trying to hold the sails against the wind and the waves. One of the disciples is leaning over the boat with his head down, making you wonder if Rembrandt imagined him seasick due to the crazy waves. If you had the opportunity to see the painting at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston before its theft in 1990, you could probably visualize the chaos in that scene.
Times of chaos are all too common in our lives. That book report due in two days is not done; your two-year-old is a holy terror, and your carpal tunnel syndrome keeps you from your work. Or maybe you just had a knock-down drag-out fight with your next-door neighbor. When the storms of chaos begin to blow, we’re left feeling like we’re drowning. The disciples certainly felt that way and wondered how on earth Jesus could sleep during such a powerful storm (Mark 4:35-41).
In the chaos, they asked the age-old question that is so often asked when the storms of life swamp us: “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown” (Mark 4:38)? Most Christians have asked that question or a variation of that question: “Lord don’t you care that I lost my job, or my health is failing or that my child has mental challenges.”
The more chaotic we feel inside, the more we experience ourselves as “scattered.” Jesus said: “…whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23 ESV). Our enemy is the “scatterer” who specializes in chaos, disorder, division, and in keeping us dispersed in any way possible. The good news is that God promises to gather us in from “every place ” where we (are) scattered: “ I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day” (Ezekiel 34:12). Amid chaos, God invites us to slow down, settle down and look up, praying with the psalmist: “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety” (Psalm 15:8-9).
Searching for Jesus in chaos sometimes feels like a lost cause. But it’s at these lowest points when we need Him the most. He’s always near and trying to guide us. If you block out the chaos around you, you will hear Him. Remind yourself that God is just as present in the chaos as He is in the times of peace. He is just as eager to connect with you, transform you, and speak to you in the chaos as He is when you are on the mountaintop.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
- In stillness is how we know God in the chaos. Agree or disagree and why?
- Read Psalm 46:7 and 11. How do these verses teach us how to know God as the almighty? What does it mean that the Lord is almighty?
- How can we know that God is with us in the chaos, even though it might not feel that way?