35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (Mark 4:35-41)
This past week many made fun of the Louisianna and Texas state legislators passing a law asking for a day of prayer and perseverance about the Gulf Oil Spill tomorrow, June 27. The Louisianna declaration basically says, "Whereas humans are doing all they can [and we're still in our 66th day facing the oil spill]" therefore we declare a day of prayer." Governor Riley of Alabama also declared June 27 to be a day of prayer about the oil spill. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour wrote-" Prayer allows us the opportunity to reflect and seek guidance, strength, comfort and inspiration from Almighty God and citizens of Mississippi are urged to pray....." Many are making fun of the governors. Some say it is just a political ploy to look "Christiany." Some organizations actually are saying governors have no right to ask people to join together to pray-- I guess they'd rather face a drought than ask God for help. Maybe some- "baptizing my office" stuff is there. But historically many presidents and governors have asked for God's help in times of crisis. On the other hand (and I think quite meanly) some Christians are saying that these folks deserve God's wrath. After all, Hurricane Katrina came, showed a lot of evil up in New Orleans (they say gay prominence- like Sodom; or voodoo; or the crime looting afterwards); washed away the casinos on the edge of the ocean in MS; only to have the same legislators who are asking for God's help now allow the casinos to rebuild-not just on the edge of the shore, but on land! I guess, if we ask for God's help, we also should ask ourselves, how might we please this God better. Real miracles in scripture are often tied to faith and repentance (I believe help my unbelief).
It might be noted that Governor Bob Riley prayed for an end to the drought in June 2007 and it amazingly rained three inches. Governor Sonny Perdu of Georgia made a declaration praying for rain in the drought of November 2007, and guess what? In three months Lake Lanier, which was depleting fast, was almost overflowing. Maybe that is not fast enough for skeptics. Maybe people want God to be a magic lamp that they rub and we tell God what to do for us- without having to listen to what God says at all. I can specifically remember in my first pastorate in Hartsville, SC in 1986 there was a huge drought in South Carolina- rain clouds would come and blow over. We couldn't wash cars, and crops were withering and dying. The churches got together (through the ministerial association- with blessing from the mayor) and prayed one night. The next day it rained - which it hadn't done in three months. Some would say that was just a coincidence. We called for the prayer 10 days before hand though, and most thought God heard us.
If God can still the sea... what else can God do? Can God calm the storm in your heart- definitely. But don't restrict God's power to nothing. My prayer is that God will once again show his mercy and kindness to the people on the gulf- even if they don't deserve it. Really, who does? If God answers us it is not because we are so great, but because He who calms the wind and waves is so great.
Prayer: Lord, have mercy on us. Give the people who live along the Gulf of Mexico strength, perseverance, peace, and also deliverance. When the greatest companies and the greatest governments fail; when our greatest efforts come to nothing, show your great power to aid us in our time of need.
John Calvin abridged: all this was arranged by the secret providence of God, — that Christ was asleep, that a violent tempest arose, and that the waves covered the ship, which was in imminent danger of perishing. And let us learn that, whenever any adverse occurrence takes place, the Lord tries our faith. If the distresses grow to such a height as almost to overwhelm us, let us
believe that God does it with the same design of exercising our patience, or of bringing to light in this way our hidden weakness; as we see that, when the apostles faced the waves coming over them, their weakness was exposed. "Lord save us" is a pious prayer, but Christ charged them with unbelief. He does not blame them because they are afraid, but because they are timid. Fear may elicit us to call on God- and keeps us from being insensitive.