Typhoon Jebi (Typhoon 21 in the Japanese system) was just skirting Saitama Prefecture based on forecasts, but there was no mistaking the power that this storm packed once it had set in.
While there was little rain, the winds were howling nonstop like ghosts awakened mad from an afternoon siesta, that a small slit of opening in the window was enough to send our curtains flying parallel to the ground, and the glass was being shaken and pounded very close to breaking. It was also cautious play for Uri, that the whole time he did not want to be left by himself in any part of the house. And for a very good reason. For in other parts of Japan, particularly in Osaka Prefecture, this same weather disturbance had been flipping cars and trucks off of roads like tin cans, and dismantling entire rooftops and metal cranes ala Godzilla. Clearly, the magic of movies had become real-life – horrifyingly real.
Another powerful scene is that of a fuel tanker laying helpless during the onslaught of Jebi, much like a modern-day rendition of the disciples’ experience with Jesus while out at sea. Despite the sophistication and modernity of this massive vessel, it was being slammed and battered toyishly by powerful winds and waves into a nearby bridge, and later on literally disconnected an already flooded Kansai international airport to the mainland. Shy of the disciples’ dozen, 11 passengers lay helpless onboard, all of whom were rescued after the storm’s passing, and none of which was injured to everyone’s relief.
Despite running the risk of ridicule and discredit for the supernatural story, Scripture emphatically records in three accounts (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25) that time when Jesus and His disciples faced the raw power of a storm. Likewise at risk were the credibility of the fishermen who were part of the group for falling seasick in the face of their leader. Still, the disciples tell the story as is, and they attested to the truth of their statements with their very lives.
Clearly, if a group with seasoned fishermen on a boat are in panic and dread of their very lives, then that must be really, really terrible, right?
Still, the man Jesus sleeps.
At least, Aquaman, mythical protector of the oceans, gets an adrenalin rush over a deadly squall, but Jesus the miracle worker soundly sleeping on it should make one truly ask, as His disciples did, “do You not care that we are perishing? (Mark 4:38)”
In reply, Jesus took on the disciples’ panic by getting rid of the storm after which, he rebukes them, “why are you afraid, you men of little faith? (Matthew 8:26)”
Acts of God
At least, in insurance parlance, it’s good to know that people are still humble enough to admit that God is over and above us, that we come to agree that things that we just cannot stop, or prevent, or control, or remedy are “Acts of God.” In the Philippines, with the regularity of typhoons and flooding, Acts of God insurance covers, specially for cars, are as regular as eating rice.
Life-threatening events in our lives – the ones we often call “Acts of God” – are usually few and far between, but they always take precedence over our mundane activities.
Jesus understands this very well.
And while the disciples already knew Jesus could perform miracles, they were still holding back their very lives, as most of us do, to the full understanding of Him and His power. Thus, in this passage, He called the disciples – as He is calling all of us – to faith by virtue of the evidence that He is beyond even these things.
When all the chaos had come to a standstill, it was just rhetorical thought for the disciples to ask: “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him? (Luke 8:25)” Jesus was convincingly calling His disciples to faith by many convincing proofs to reconcile in their hearts and minds that He is God in the flesh, the one and only powerful God who does not and will not flinch at sickness, demons, nature, and even death.
As it turns out, the general idea of “Acts of God” is skewed awry and downright diminutive, as the real acts of God are not a cause for panic but peace, not life-threatening but life-enriching. They are also not a matter of fear, but a matter of faith that even if things go beyond our grasp, our good and faithful God is firmly in control.