THE INCREASE: An Unsinkable Kingdom – Mark Mitchell

“One day Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, He fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.’” — Luke 8:22-25

What could cause your faith to collapse? Something in your career, a loved one becoming ill, a child going astray, a national catastrophe? In Luke 8, the disciples experienced such a test and their faith did collapse. Still, Jesus woke up and miraculously calmed the storm.

Many of us have heard this story told with the conclusion: When we experience trials that threaten to undo us, trust that Jesus is with us. He’ll calm the storm, we just need to have faith. But I question that interpretation. Why? Because sometimes Jesus does NOT calm the storm. Sometimes His most devoted followers get caught in a storm and never come back. Marriages fail. Children die. Careers are ruined. Sure, Jesus is always with us, but He doesn’t always fix the problem.

The real issue in this story isn’t the personal welfare of the disciples but something bigger: the Kingdom of God. For three years the disciples heard Jesus preach the Good News of the Kingdom. They gave up everything to believe and follow Him. But now it appeared the whole enterprise was going down — both King and Kingdom would sink!

Those of us who have sworn our allegiance to King Jesus are a part of His Kingdom — one that cannot sink. Marriages may fail, careers may go down the tube, a car accident may take us, but we can still trust Jesus because regardless of what happens to us, the promise of the Kingdom is certain.

Jesus wants to develop us into men and women of faith who trust Him in every circumstance. When the disciples saw their boat about to capsize on the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee, they woke a snoozing Jesus and cried out, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Faith is developed in the storms of life. It isn’t learned in a classroom. It wasn’t enough for the disciples to listen to Jesus teach or watch Him heal. He allowed them to undergo life situations that would test their faith.

Likewise, we can’t learn faith by watching others go through hard times. We can’t inherit faith. We have to learn it through our own storms.

Neither can we learn faith by attending a Bible study. I’ve been to countless Bible studies and three different seminaries, but I never learned a single thing about faith in the classroom. What I have learned I did so through the storms of life.

Many times I’ve failed the test. Like the disciples, I’ve wondered if this whole thing about Jesus and His Kingdom are really true. But thankfully the Lord stays committed to us. He’s committed to developing our faith. He knows this takes time. Jesus didn’t abandon the disciples after their faith collapsed, He stilled the storm anyway. He showed them the Kingdom will go on even if their faith fails. Then He prepared another test for them.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, I guarantee He’ll continue to develop your faith too.

Mark Mitchell, chaplain for the San Francisco Giants

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