Chaos on the sea was widely understood in the Jewish world as a sign of God's judgment or God's absence. We see it in the creation account, in the flood and in a lot of other imagery throughout the Old Testament. But, then Jesus rebukes the wind. He speaks to the sea. And it listens! If a raging sea was a sign of God's judgment, then Jesus was presenting Himself as one who had the authority of that judgment! If the sinking boat was seen a sign of God's absence, then Jesus was announcing His presence in way they could never forget!
Hezekiah took a threat, which was significantly more imminent, disastrous and real than anything I have experienced or am currently going through, and he spread it out before the Lord. That is a marvelous image of prayer, to spread it out before God as a sign of weakness and dependence and ask God to take care of it. We can fold it up tight and carry it around in our pockets and let it weigh us down and ultimately decay our peace, or we can spread it out, fold it flat, show it to God, and ask Him to help.
Job wasn't ready. You know when God starts a conversation by telling you to dress like a man that it is going to be good. God essentially says to Job, alright mate, put your big boy pants on, and pay attention. And then the questions begin, and they are God's questions exposing Job's limitations when compared to God's lack of those very same limitations.
When I re-read the story of Samson today, it was no less tragic but I could see some of the strands of grace. A man with low impulse control, who is remarkably gifted by God's Spirit but who cannot control his ego, his temper or his sex drive ends up being weakened and humiliated, and the only glimpse of redemption comes in the form of self-destructive revenge, and yet, God uses Him in the ongoing advance of His Kingdom, and gifts him grace and power, in spite of himself. That's just like God, to love and empower and work through really flawed people.
The twelve tribes of Israel are conceived in sin, competition, oppression (Bilhah and Zilpah are victims of some very peculiar sexual sins here), fornication and desperation. Everywhere you look in this storyline there is human weakness and wickedness and yet it is all bound together in the gracious faithfulness of a covenant keeping God. Only God could bring something beautiful out of all of this, and He does! It is amazing to consider that for future generations, God was happy to be named as the God of Jacob! That isn't a testament to the faithfulness of Jacob, but it is God showing His people that He stays faithful to even the most wayward of sons.
People are now locked away with the demons and temptations that don't respect social distancing. I am saddened to hear of and see the impact that is having on people who are tired of fighting those demons and who ordinarily used the warm light of community as a place to temporarily escape them. Now, they live with us, all the time, and we cannot leave.
Jesus prays not because He is superhuman, but because He is human. It isn't a sign of His strength that He rubs our nose in, it is evidence of His dependence on the Father that He invites us into. His early morning prayer session isn't the separated hours of spiritual practice reserved for an unhurried monk, but rather it is the life giving retreat of a very busy shepherd.
What is important though, is what we watch for while we wait. Our belief will be determined by our beholding. Our faith will be fueled by the object of our focus. Where we look will determine how well we last.