William B. Bowes on How to Follow Jesus’ Example of Calmness in Times of Crisis

The simple answer for how Jesus did certain spectacular things is often “because he was God.” And it’s a rather lousy answer, not least because Philippians 2 makes clear that Jesus, in some mysterious way, divested himself of the benefits of his divine nature in order to take on human flesh and become like us. Although he indeed had access to this nature and therefore could avoid suffering as we do (as Matthew 26:53 shows), he actively emptied himself to live as an ordinary person. And therein lies the paradox of the incarnation; Jesus was extraordinarily unlike anyone else yet, in all respects, very much like anyone else.

And like anyone else, Jesus experienced anxiety (Luke 22:44), anger (John 2:15), sadness (John 11:35), grief (Mark 3:5), exasperation (Mark 9:19), joy (Luke 10:21), and deep affection (Mark 10:21). Even though he experienced all of these things and more, one thing that distinguished Jesus from others (particularly his disciples) was his calmness in the face of crisis.

One classic example of this is in the account of the storm that comes upon his disciples’ boat, relayed to us by three of the gospel writers. Jesus is sleeping in the boat while the disciples frantically attempt to navigate through a violent storm which threatened to capsize them. Overwhelmed in their anxiety and fearing for their lives, the disciples wake Jesus and he proceeds to calm the storm. Even though he does this, he expresses his frustration that they had been of such little faith to become so fearful and give up hope. Jesus had been there with them, and it seems Jesus’ preference would have been for them to just trust that the storm would not overwhelm them because of that. Their calmness would have come from trust—not in their own power to calm the storm, but because of his presence with them.

But still, that Jesus could not only be calm but sleep in the midst of a storm that brought even weathered fishermen to fear for their lives is worth our attention.

It is worth our attention because we are undoubtedly in the midst of our own sort of storm at this moment. The current public health crisis has brought about a host of different responses, very few of which might be referred to as “calm.”

Some go on as if there was no storm, eager to move beyond the inconvenience of the collective detour in life that this crisis has produced. Others respond in fear and panic, doing anything possible to maintain safety, but finding themselves despairing of the uncertainty of the storm. Jesus, however, neither ignores the storm as if it did not exist nor lapses into fear and panic. Unlike the disciples (and many of us), he stays calm in the midst of the storm. He was not apathetic, and he was certainly not anxious. Because following Jesus is following his example and living as he did, how then can we stay calm in the midst of a crisis?

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SOURCE: Christian Post, William B. Bowes