One of the great pleasures of being a grandparent is listening to your children complain about how hard it is to be a parent.
“What is it with a three year old,” my son said. “I thought we were through the terrible twos. Where did this three year old come from?”
You laugh and remind him he was once a three year old, and everyone got through it just fine. Yet, this time, I have to admit, the story was particularly funny.
“What’s going on,” I asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ve had several storms during the last few nights, and she won’t stay in her bed if she hears it thunder.”
That brought back memories. When our twin boys were small, they hated loud noises. Sirens, horns, loud music, and thunder would send them into hysterics. I know, the experts say you’re not supposed to let your children sleep in the bed with you, but if anyone was going to get any sleep, the boys were going to have to sleep in our bed.
“Can’t you go back to your bed,” I would finally ask.
“No,” they would say, “it’s thundering.”
“Well, it’s thundering in here too.”
“But just on the outside.”
And there in the middle of the night, my boys taught me something. Peace isn’t the absence of storms. There are always going to be storms – jobs fall through, money gets a little tight, someone gets sick – if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Yet, the hardest storms aren’t the ones on the outside. They’re the ones on the inside. Researchers tell us we are in a new kind of mental health crisis in America. A growing number of adolescents and young adults are dealing with some kind of anxiety. They’re worried about grades, about fitting in, about getting into the right school and then, they worry about getting out of school and getting a job.
They worry about their identity, their purpose. They worry about relationships and self-worth, and to make matters worse, there’s no place to go to get an answer to these questions. The storms are on the inside.
In one of the most famous stories of the New Testament, the disciples are caught in a storm in the middle of Lake Galilee. In their panic, they don’t realize Jesus is asleep. When they do, they wake Him up asking Him why He doesn’t care that they’re all going to die.
Then, Jesus calms the sea and the wind, and everyone is in awe of His power. For me, I want to know how Jesus was able to sleep in the middle of the storm. If I had been on that little boat, being tossed side to side by the waves, I wouldn’t have been sleeping. I would have holding onto the mast with everything that I had, begging for God to save me.Why would I have been afraid to die? Because there’s so much in my life that’s left undone. There are people I love whom I’m not sure know how much I love them. There are friends I need to thank, sins I need to confess, and papers I need to get in order. I can’t die now. I’ve got too much to do.
But Jesus slept. How? For one thing, Jesus was exhausted. He had spent the day doing ministry, and he was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Now, I know you’re going to tell me that you’re tired and can’t get through the day as it is. Yep, we’re all tired. The lack of sleep is a growing health care crisis in our nation.
I hear that, but how many of us go to bed with a “good tired”? You know what I mean. Tired, worn out, but proud of what you’ve accomplished. You go to sleep proud of what we did during the day. One of the reasons we have such a hard time going to sleep is because we keep thinking we should have gotten something more done. It’s hard to go to sleep dealing with regret.
Jesus was tired, but it was a good tired.
Jesus knew who He was. A lot of times, we wrestle with what other people said or what someone else may be thinking, and it bothers us. We spend a lot of time worrying about how we’re perceived, how many followers we have on social media. It’s hard to sleep when that conversation about whether or not we’re worth anything is constantly going on in our head.
Jesus could sleep. His identity and worth had been confirmed by the Father’s own words. Jesus didn’t need any other affirmation.
Jesus knew His purpose. His mission of redemption focused His energy and His life. He didn’t grieve missed opportunities or things left unsaid. He led with the confidence of knowing where He was going. He could sleep. He didn’t have to deal with the anxiety of struggling with wasted time or a wasted life. Jesus knew where He was going.
And most of all, He was confident in the Father’s promise and the Father’s ability to keep that promise. No matter what else happened – the anger of the religious leaders, the violent paranoia of the Roman government – Christ knew nothing would frustrate the Father’s purpose for Jesus and His kingdom.
No one knew better than Jesus that life is filled with storms. But as long as the storm stays on the outside, you’ll be able to sleep at night. It’s the storms on the inside that keep us up all night.