Are you afraid?

What scares you?

That is the question I posed to 140 preschoolers one morning. For the 3, 4, and 5 year olds in the sanctuary, the answers were variable and expected: the dark, monsters, spiders, being alone, vegetables. Many adults might share a couple of those fears (I even know some who are scared of vegetables), however, I would venture to guess that most grownup answers might be more nuanced and complex.

The news tends to stoke our fears. Some of us might be very scared of volatility in the stock market and the economy in general. Others might be scared by troubling new weather patterns and trends. Some are scared of the prospects of war and violence. Still others are scared of an upsetting diagnosis from their doctor, or living in the aftermath of a traumatic and unexpected life change, or missing out on an opportunity. The list could go on and on.

After the children shouted their answers, I told them the story from Matthew’s gospel about a time when Jesus’ disciples were really scared. They were on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when a fierce storm began raging around them. A furious wind blew, and waves swamped the boat. The disciples were afraid the boat would sink and they would drown. As all of this was taking place, Jesus was taking a nap—right there in the boat with the disciples, in the midst of all the chaos.

In their fear, the disciples woke Jesus, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded by chiding them for their abundance of fear and their lack of faith. Surely, the disciples knew that God was with them. Surely, they trusted that even in the midst of an angry sea, they still rested in the palms of God’s hands. Yet the storm pushes them to their limit, and their faith erodes under a deluge of fear.

Jesus calms the storm with a word, and everything becomes still and calm in an instant. Jesus shows his disciples that they have nothing to be afraid of, because everything is under God’s control—even nature. We need not be scared of anything, because Jesus is with us, and will help us through all of the storms we face. Because of Jesus, next time someone asks, “What scares you?”, you can answer, “Absolutely nothing.”