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  • Sarah Hubert

    “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

    Fear and faith are connected. Fear and love are connected also, as we know from verses like, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18). And of course faith and love are connected. I would like to argue that it is our faith in God’s love for us, a love that took our punishment, and our faith in God’s sovereign control, as seen in Jesus’ calming the storm, that together casts out our fear. If God is in control of everything and God loves me, what do I have to fear?

    What is not being said in Mathew 8:23-27? First, Jesus is not saying, “Why are you afraid, this isn’t a scary situation. Have faith that I won’t put you in truly dangerous situations.” The situation was truly terrifying. Many of the disciples were fishermen and knew the danger of the sea and probably had seen a few victims of drownings. Their fear was 100% rational and justified on physical terms. The source of their lack of fear was not to be a foolish bravado or ignorance of danger, but rather a trust in the One in control who allowed them to be in a dangerous situation.

    Secondly, Jesus is not saying, “Why are you afraid, don’t you have faith that I will save you out of all dangerous situations?” In the circumstance, Jesus did indeed calm the waves and save them, but I would argue that the point was to show His power over creation, thereby giving the disciples grounds for having the faith in Him that he mentions, not to imply that He would always save them out of physical troubles. Why do I say this? Because the Bible is rife with examples of God’s people getting into bad situations and sometimes they are rescued and sometimes not. Paul has a good parallel example in Acts 27 when he is being sent to Rome to testify before Caesar. He too meets bad sailing conditions and after many trials they do shipwreck…and then the trials continue. But Paul has the faith that Jesus talks about in Matthew 8. Paul knows God’s in charge. In charge of sending the storm, in charge of how long the ship is stranded, in charge of the shipwreck, in charge of the snake incident that follows, in charge of it all and using it all for His good purposes and indeed, what do you see in the whole chapter 27 of Acts? That God uses Paul’s faith and lack of fear in the midst of the terrifying circumstances to show His Glory to the Roman soldiers, sailors, prisoners and residents of Malta.

    In Matthew 8, Jesus keeps them from being shipwrecked, and God is glorified. In Acts 27, God sends a storm and shipwrecks Paul, and God is glorified.

    So ‘why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ God is in control. Of. It. All. And to quote Paul,

    "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

    ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. "
    (Romans 8:35-39)

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  • Sarah Hubert

    And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”  (Matthew 8:23-27 ESV)

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  • Sarah Hubert

    This is scary stuff (and it’s just the beginning, Proverbs is full of this). Lord, please make us listeners. Help us to love your counsel and reproof. Let us not be scoffers, fools or simple.

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  • Sarah Hubert

    Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”  (Proverbs 1:29-33 ESV)

    תַּ֭חַת כִּי־שָׂ֣נְאוּ דָ֑עַת וְיִרְאַ֥ת יְ֝הֹוָ֗ה לֹ֣א בָחָֽרוּ׃ לֹא־אָב֥וּ לַעֲצָתִ֑י נָ֝אֲצ֗וּ כָּל־תּוֹכַחְתִּֽי׃ וְֽ֭יֹאכְלוּ מִפְּרִ֣י דַרְכָּ֑ם וּֽמִמֹּעֲצֹ֖תֵיהֶ֣ם יִשְׂבָּֽעוּ׃ כִּ֤י מְשׁוּבַ֣ת פְּתָיִ֣ם תַּֽהַרְגֵ֑ם וְשַׁלְוַ֖ת כְּסִילִ֣ים תְּאַבְּדֵֽם׃ וְשֹׁמֵ֣עַֽ לִ֭י יִשְׁכָּן־בֶּ֑טַח וְ֝שַׁאֲנַ֗ן מִפַּ֥חַד רָעָֽה׃פ  (Proverbs 1:29-33 WLC)

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  • Sarah Hubert

    What is absent from David’s plea for mercy from God? What is absent is any mention of “merit” on David’s part. David is pleading with God for mercy for himself, however his argument is all about God. God created in order to show His glory and to have fellowship with his creation. Humans are designed to love and praise God, to have fullness of joy in communion and adoration of their Creator and Savior. And David relates here to God in full view of these things. ‘Have mercy and save me God, not because I merit it, but so that I can continue to praise you and declare your loyalty.’ It has a similar ring to it as “O Lord, deliver me for Your name’s sake.”

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  • Sarah Hubert

    To you, O Lord, I cried out;
    I begged the Lord for mercy:
    9“What profit is there in taking my life,
    in my descending into the Pit?
    Can the dust of the grave praise you?
    Can it declare your loyalty?
    10Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me!
    O Lord, deliver me!”
    Psalms 30:8-10 NET

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  • Sarah Hubert

    In the middle of this passage (Mat 15:21-28), Jesus cruelly refuses to help this woman who has fallen at his feet begging him to heal her demon-oppressed daughter-- and he adds insult to injury, essentially calling the woman a dog. And yet things are not as they seem. Moments later, not only has Jesus granted the woman’s request and heals her daughter, but he has given her the greatest compliment that Jesus (indeed God) ever gives to anybody. “Oh woman, great is your faith!” Jesus is not impressed with people. Only a few precious times does he encounter someone who’s faith is so great that he comments on it, and this is one of those times. From seeming cruelty and insult, to blessing and great honor. What is going on here?

    Why is this passage so surprising to us? Why do so many of us (at least upon first reading it), take offense at Jesus’ actions and words? I think it’s because we are prideful. How dare Jesus treat that woman that way! Why? He is God. She is a sinful human. She’s not Jewish, and He was working primarily with the Jews (God’s chosen people) at that point… Stop! Right now, look at your heart. Are you offended? Now, imagine a person who has no pride, who deeply understands that they are sinful (meaning corrupted, unclean, evil, not okay, not good, not deserving-- going to have to chuck postmodern self-esteem mantras in order to get this). Would this person with no pride, this humble person, be offended by Jesus? No. The Canaanite woman is humble. She knows that she is nothing, and she’s right. She’s desperate to save her daughter and that’s more important than her reputation. She’s humble enough to come begging at the feet of a Jewish man in public, crossing cultural taboos and inviting criticism and mockery. She’s humble enough to persist when she is ignored and rejected, because she’s not demanding her rights; she’s begging for mercy (which is completely different). Jesus’ comment about children and dogs? Doesn’t phase her. Insults only hurt pride. No pride? No insult taken. Yes, I am a dog, she thinks, but I’ve heard about you. I know that you can help me, and I know that you are merciful. “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

    So uncool. Where is the modern everything woman? Where is the strong, determined, conquering all obstacles, proud, smart, CEO/doctor/supermom/feminist all-in-one package of awesomeness? What is this sniveling, self-demeaning creature begging at the feet of a man?! Shameful! Yes, humility is rather detested today, and faith (in anything other than yourself) is equally yucky. But if we stop posturing for a second and take an objective look we will perhaps have a Solomon moment: The modern self-made, self-believing superwoman (or man), can spend their life and energy in pursuit of progress, wealth, social good, or power. An unwanted child born in the slums of Katmandu can spend their short, miserable life begging for food. But both will end up dust, their earthly accomplishments (or lack thereof) wholly meaningless. They will stand before God and answer for their actions, their thoughts, the intentions of their hearts. Pride will be exposed in all its shamefulness. Humility will shine. Faith will be joyfully victorious, having received its heart desire, and honor to boot.

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