Where is God When...
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 6:45-52
January 26, 2020

Sometimes it seems as though everything is against us.
No matter what we do we don’t get ahead.
It’s one step forward and two steps back.

Maybe not one big thing, but a series of little things which seem to go against us.

We try hard to do the right thing.
We try to be obedient to God.
But still things seem to work against us.
So we often think that we must be doing something wrong.

As a matter of fact, that thought is ingrained in popular theology and songs.

Maria in “The Sound of Music” said it this way:

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
It is actually a theological argument for the existence of God.
But it is not a good argument for why things happen in our lives.

Everything bad in your life does not arise out of you doing something bad and more so than everything good in your life arising out of you having done something good.

This an important lesson from our text this morning.

Mark 6:45-52

The first observations we make from this text is this:

1. You can be in the center of God’s will and still face a storm.

The disciples are doing exactly what Jesus told them to do.
They are going exactly where Jesus told them to go.

But then the storm comes up.

When this happens in our lives we revert back to those questions.
Why is this happening?
What did I do?

Since we are in a boat with other guys, maybe it was one of them?
Who is the Jonah in this boat?
Someone must be to blame!

Nothing comes from nothing...

Yet there is no indication that the disciples are at fault.

The disciples are doing exactly what Jesus told them to do. Only it wasn’t working.

Note verse 48. “They were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.”

From our perspective after the fact, this is especially troubling.

Jesus is in control of the wind.
And yet he sends the disciples out to fight against it.

You can be doing everything right and still have bad things happen to you.

Even the Godly face troubles

Sometimes trouble comes even while we are in the center of God’s will.
And it is difficult to explain.
Why would we face trouble when we are doing what God has told us to do?

Yet this is the experience of almost everyone.
We have ample examples in scripture.

You don’t get smooth sailing just because you are doing God’s will.

Take a look at the experience of Godly men in scripture:

Job - living a righteous life when attacked in what appears to be a celestial bet gone wrong for Job.

Elijah (I Kings 17:1-7)

After he goes to Ahab to announce that there will be a drought in the land (doing what God told him to do) we read this of Elijah:

“And the word of the Lord came to him:
“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

So he went and did according to the word of the Lord.

He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.”

In the center of God’s will and yet the brook ran dry.

Look at Paul’s experience in 2 Cor 12:7-9

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Peter - how many times must he go to jail for simply doing what Jesus told him to do - to preach the gospel?

We could go on with the stories of John the Baptist, of the Apostle John, of David, of Joseph and many more.

The conclusion we must draw is that troubles can come into your life even when you are in the center of God’s will.

And that’s okay, because this text also teaches us that God is watching over us.

2. God is aware of the storms we face. V47-48

We are not ignored by God.

It is somewhat natural for us to wonder if God blinked when something bad has happened in our lives.

Maybe he wasn’t paying attention - because, in our minds, if God was paying attention he would have prevented the bad things of life.

Many see the problem of evil as evidence that if there is a god it is a god who doesn’t care. At best, they argue, the existence of evil proves that the god of scripture isn’t there because a god who cared - a god of love, would take away all evil.

A loving God, they argue, would take away all pain.

But a life without pain is a life without pleasure as well.

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be.

Without the ability to compare our pain to happiness, there’s no reason to be happy.

That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

A loving God allows pain because through our pain we can fully experience happiness and joy.

And when bad things come into our lives rather than question the existence of God - or the attentiveness of God we do well to remember that he is watching over us.
That’s what we see in our text.

Look at verse 48 - “and Jesus saw...”

This is not an isolated scenario where Jesus was on the shore watching the disicples.
This is just an example of what is happening all the time.

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is teaching his disciples and anticipating that bad things will come into their lives he encourages them with these words:

Luke 12:4-7
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

As the song writer said:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

This is what the Psalmist says in Psalm 121:1-4

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

Troubles in life may make us feel as though God doesn’t care
That he is somehow absent from our lives.
Or that he has forgotten us.

But remember this, no matter what is going on in your life, Jesus knows about it.

The presence of headwinds in our lives does not disprove the omniscience of God.

You can be in the center of God’s will and still face difficulties. But you wont face them alone.

God knows what is happening in your life.

Which leads us to the third conclusion from this text:

3. God is available to help us.

I love what happens in our text:

We are told that Jesus walks out on the water.

And between 3 and 6 AM - the fourth watch of the night he plans on just walking on by the distressed disciples.

They see him. They think he is a ghost.
They cry out in fear.

And then he speaks to them. And he gets into the boat. And the sea becomes calm.

You know what we don’t see here? The disciples calling out to Jesus for help.
There is no prayer here. Just the cries of fear.
Not just a little fear, like I’m afraid of needles.
This is a genuine night terror.

Grasping the hearts of everyone in the boat.
A contagious fear rippling through their bodies.

And then Jesus is there.
The storm is over.
The fear is gone.
You know, the Lord’s power to help us is not limited by the inadequacy of our asking

Psalm 46:1-3 says it this way:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Jesus’s put it this way:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

You can be in the center of God’s will and still face difficulties. But you wont face them alone.

God knows what is happening in your life.
And he is available to help.

One final thought from the end of our text.

Actually it is more of a question that strikes me.

The text says this:
“And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”

So here is the question I leave you with today.
Since we know that you can be in the center of God’s will and still face difficulties.

Since we know that we wont face them alone because
God knows what is happening in your life.

Since we know that his ability and willingness to help us is not dependent upon the adequacy of our asking.

Why are we surprised when we see God?

Shouldn’t we be more surprised that we don’t see God more often?


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