Keeping Calm in a Crisis (Matthew 14)


Matthew 14 documents three extraordinarily stressful events that surfaced one day in the ministry of Jesus. There was the unjust execution of His good friend and close relative, John the Baptist.  That was followed by the urgent demands of over 5000 hungry, uninvited guests who were dependent on him for their next meal.  That night Jesus observed a violent windstorm that threatened to capsize His disciples’ boat on the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus didn’t panic. He didn’t charge the palace and threaten to kill Herod for beheading John; He calmly withdrew into a solitary place apart from the crowds.  He didn’t lash out at the hungry crowd for selfishly interrupting His retreat and foolishly failing to plan ahead; He patiently ministered to them and made do with the meager resources available to feed them all.

That night Jesus walked over the vicious waves and called out to His disciples, “Take Courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” Then He climbed into the boat with them and instantly calmed the churning sea.  No wonder,“…those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” [1]

There’s a familiar line in Rudyard Kipling’s poem that reads, “If you can keep your head when all about you men are losing theirs…then you will be a man my son.”  If we can maintain our composure under pressure it’s a positive testimony to the world that we follow “The Man” who grants us a peace that passes understanding.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to keep calm in a crisis.  Most don’t.  They yell obscenities at ball games when the score gets close.  They lay on the horn in traffic when late for an appointment.  They scream at their kids when they’re fighting in the backseat.  They go berserk when the computer crashes.  They lash out at God when circumstances get uncomfortable.

How do you keep your head when all about you men are losing theirs?  Although we’re not God in the flesh, as was Jesus, He did set an example for us that we should follow in His steps.  The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is self control.”  How do we, like Jesus, stay calm under pressure?

The one essential for maintaining composure is the confidence that regardless of what happens the Lord is with us and He is still in control.  The disciples didn’t realize that Jesus was watching them from a nearby mountain and they got panicky in the storm.

When you face stress remember, Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  He promised to never leave nor forsake us.  We are not alone.  He is our refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble.

When we’re confident that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, disappointments are regarded as temporary, interruptions are seen as opportunities, and even the most violent storms are manageable.  I love the plaque that reads, “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I can’t handle together.”

If stress mounts for you today, look for Jesus to appear in the midst of the storm that threatens you.  Hear Him calling to you, “Take courage!  It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

I guess that’s why I really liked the photo below that was sent to me recently.  The amazing photograph of this mother bird sheltering her two offspring under her wings (even though they seem old enough to fend for themselves) reminds us of God’s daily provision and protection in our lives.

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”  Psalm 57:1 [2]

** If you are enjoying this study through the book of Matthew with Bob Russell, be sure to check out Bob’s “Falling In Love With Jesus Again” Bible Study DVD and resources for your small group or church.

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 14:33). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Ps 57:1). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


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Special Thanks to Lisa Russell Photography 
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