"Peace, Be Still"



     After He had dismissed the multitude, they took Him, even "as He was," into the boat, and hastily set off. But they were not to depart alone. There were other fishing boats lying near the shore, and these were quickly crowded with people who followed Jesus, eager still to see and hear Him.

     The Saviour was at last relieved from the pressure of the multitude, and, overcome with weariness and hunger, He lay down in the stern of the boat, and soon fell asleep. The evening had been calm and pleasant, and quiet rested upon the lake; but suddenly darkness overspread the sky, the wind swept wildly down the mountain gorges along the eastern shore, and a fierce tempest burst upon the lake.

     The sun had set, and the blackness of night settled down upon the stormy sea. The waves, lashed into fury by the howling winds, dashed fiercely over the disciples' boat, and threatened to engulf it. Those hardy fishermen had spent their lives upon the lake, and had guided their craft safely through many a storm; but now their strength and skill availed nothing. They were helpless in the grasp of the tempest, and hope failed them as they saw that their boat was filling.

     Absorbed in their efforts to save themselves, they had forgotten that Jesus was on board. Now, seeing their labor vain and only death before them, they remembered at whose command they had set out to cross the sea. In Jesus was their only hope. In their helplessness and despair they cried, "Master, Master!" But the dense darkness hid Him from their sight. Their voices were drowned by the roaring of the tempest, and there was no reply. Doubt and fear assailed them. Had Jesus forsaken them? Was He who had conquered disease and demons, and even death, powerless to help His disciples now? Was He unmindful of them in their distress?

     Again they call, but there is no answer except the shrieking of the angry blast. Already their boat is sinking. A moment, and apparently they will be swallowed up by the hungry waters.

     Suddenly a flash of lightning pierces the darkness, and they see Jesus lying asleep, undisturbed by the tumult. In amazement and despair they exclaim, "Master, carest Thou not that we perish?" How can He rest so peacefully, while they are in danger and battling with death?

     Their cry arouses Jesus. As the lightning's glare reveals Him, they see the peace of heaven in His face; they read in His glance self-forgetful, tender love, and, their hearts turning to Him, cry, "Lord, save us: we perish."

     Never did a soul utter that cry unheeded. As the disciples grasp their oars to make a last effort, Jesus rises. He stands in the midst of His disciples, while the tempest rages, the waves break over them, and the lightning illuminates His countenance. He lifts His hand, so often employed in deeds of mercy, and says to the angry sea, "Peace, be still."



     The storm ceases. The billows sink to rest. The clouds roll away, and the stars shine forth. The boat rests upon a quiet sea. Then turning to His disciples, Jesus asks sorrowfully, "Why are ye fearful? have ye not yet faith?" Mark 4:40, R.V.

     A hush fell upon the disciples. Even Peter did not attempt to express the awe that filled his heart. The boats that had set out to accompany Jesus had been in the same peril with that of the disciples. Terror and despair had seized their occupants; but the command of Jesus brought quiet to the scene of tumult. The fury of the storm had driven the boats into close proximity, and all on board beheld the miracle. In the calm that followed, fear was forgotten. The people whispered among themselves, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

     When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the "Master of earth and sea and sky" that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." John 5:30. He trusted in the Father's might. It was in faith--faith in God's love and care--that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God.

     As Jesus rested by faith in the Father's care, so we are to rest in the care of our Saviour. If the disciples had trusted in Him, they would have been kept in peace. Their fear in the time of danger revealed their unbelief. In their efforts to save themselves, they forgot Jesus; and it was only when, in despair of self-dependence, they turned to Him that He could give them help.

     How often the disciples' experience is ours! When the tempests of temptation gather, and the fierce lightnings flash, and the waves sweep over us, we battle with the storm alone, forgetting that there is One who can help us. We trust to our own strength till our hope is lost, and we are ready to perish. Then we remember Jesus, and if we call upon Him to save us, we shall not cry in vain. Though He sorrowfully reproves our unbelief and self-confidence, He never fails to give us the help we need. Whether on the land or on the sea, if we have the Saviour in our hearts, there is no need of fear. Living faith in the Redeemer will smooth the sea of life, and will deliver us from danger in the way that He knows to be best.

The Desire of Ages  P  334-336




Of The Ship’s Crew

     On August 9, 1815, the "Brig Commerce" was wrecked on the coast of Africa. Captain Riley tells how he and his crew were saved after the shipwreck.

     "We managed to get the small boat’s sails, consisting of a gib and mainsail, into the small boat, with a spar that would do for a mast, and the ‘Brig’s’ foremost staysail. We had a keg of water, a few pieces of food, a live pig that weighed abut twenty pounds, about four pounds of figs that had been soaking in the salt water ever since the wreck.      (We fished the figs out of the cabin.) This was the total of our provisions.

     "The pig had escaped to the shore at the time of the shipwreck. But when the waves pulled us back from the shore, the pig swam back to us and we took it into the small boat. When everything was ready, I tried to encourage the crew as well as I could. I told them that it was better for us to be swallowed up by the sea than to be massacred by the ferocious savages.

     "I reminded the crew that God was able to save us, even when the last ray of hope was vanishing and we should never despair, but do our best in our attempt to get to safety, and still hope for His merciful protection. As we looked at the dangers that surrounded us—wave after wave breaking with a dreadful crash constantly just beyond us, our hearts failed us. There seemed to be no possibility of getting safely beyond the breakers unless God intervened.

     "I had doubted that God would particularly intervene in any case, yet if there is a general providence, there must be a particular providence! Everyone trembled with fear and dread. We thought that as soon as we went past the wrecked ship, we would be drowned.

     "Then I said, ‘Let us pull off our hats, my companions and shipmates in distress.’ Quickly every man pulled his hat off. I lifted my eyes and soul toward heaven and prayed, ‘Great Creator and   Preserver of the universe, Who now seest our distresses, we pray Thee to spare our lives and permit us to pass through this overwhelming surf to the open sea. But if we are doomed to perish, Thy will be done. We commit our souls to Thee, our God, Who gave them, and O, universal Father, protect and preserve our widows and children.’

     "The winds, as if by divine command, at this very moment ceased to blow. We hauled the boat out. The dreadful surges that were nearly bursting upon us suddenly quit, making a path for our boat, through which we rowed out as smoothly as if we had been on a river in a calm. But on each side of us and just a few yards away, the surf continued to break twenty feet high with unabated fury!

     "We had to row nearly a mile in this manner. All of us were fully convinced that we were saved by God’s special intervention just when we needed His help. All joined in returning thanks to God for His mercy. As soon as we reached the open sea and had gone some distance from the wreck, we saw the surf rolling behind us with the same force as it had on each side of the boat!" Riley’s Narrative, 33, 34.

    The following interesting remarks are from the author’s preface:

     "With respect to the extraordinary circumstance told in the story of the sudden subsiding of the surf when we were about committing ourselves to the open sea in our shattered boat, I know that there will be much comment and probably some ridicule.

     "I was advised to not tell that part of the story in case some unbelievers would not believe the rest of my ‘narrative.’ This probably would have been good advice for me as a mere author. Previously, I might have been suspicious that such a story was not true. But I feel that I cannot withhold an incident that so clearly seemed to my companions and me at the time as the immediate and merciful act of God just when death was pressing close upon us.

     "The waters of the sea had well nigh covered us; the proud waves had well nigh gone over our soul. Then cried we unto Thee, O Lord, and thou didst deliver us out of our distresses; the windy storm ceased and turned into a calm."

M. E. Cornell