One of the most beloved stories from the life of Jesus tells of his calming a terrifying storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:22-25). As with all his miracles, Jesus’ primary purpose, for his apostles as well as us, was to demonstrate his power, proving his deity.
The story also serves as a calming source of encouragement and assurance of the power we can call on to save us from the storms that threaten us, physically and spiritually.
Several Christian hymns, such as the familiar Master, the Tempest is Raging, talk about God protection and help for those on the sea, and also help us encourage one another to face life with greater faith.
Master, the tempest is raging! The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness; No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest Thou not that we perish? How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening A grave in the angry deep?
Master, with anguish of spirit I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled, Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish Sweep o’er my sinking soul
And I perish! I perish! dear Master; Oh, hasten, and take control
Master, the terror is over, The elements sweetly rest
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored And heaven’s within my breast
Linger, O bless’d Redeemer! Leave me alone no more; And with joy I shall make the blest harbor And rest on the blissful shore
In 1871, Edward Hopper and John E. Gould collaborated to give us the words and music to Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me. The first two verses tell the story:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll, Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boistr’ous waves obey th will, When Thou say’st to them, “Be still;”
Though the song isn’t entirely about the storm at sea, the second stanza of Thomas O. Chisholm’s Be with Me, Lord makes application of Jesus’ power:
Be with me, Lord, and then if dangers threaten,
If storms of trials burst above my head,
If lashing seas leap everywhere about me,
They cannot harm, or make my heart afraid.
There are other songs that refer to this extraordinary display of Jesus’ loving care for his disciples, as well as other stories, miraculous and non-miraculous, that confirm God’s ability and willingness to help the helpless. Its difficult, when talking about God’s care for us portrayed in nature, to leave out William Whiting’s majestic Naval Hymn, which begins with this wonderfully moving stanza:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean
Its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.
Dear Reader, how grateful we should be for the privilege to “Speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” as we “Sing and make music in [our] hearts to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19)