He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39 NIV
Last week, I went to a local hospital to visit and pray for a long-time friend. After I conversed briefly with the family in the lobby, I decided to take the elevator instead of the stairs (because I was tired) to go to the second floor to visit with my friend. I pushed the appropriate button, the doors closed, and the elevator began to quietly move to the second floor.
After a few seconds when the elevator doors did not open to the second floor, I pushed the second floor button again to make sure the elevator had been activated. Nothing happened. I pushed the “open door” button. Nothing happened. It did not take me long to realize that I was stuck between floors. I used the elevator phone and contacted the operator, who immediately assured me that help was on the way.
What helped me get through the negative experience of being stuck on an elevator, first, was the promise of the operator that I would at some point be rescued. But, I also became acutely aware of all the noise associated with being stuck. I could hear voices below and above.
I was fully sensitized to the chains that were squeaking, and I was wondering if the chains were failing or being used by the workers to rescue me. I was aware that the motor was running; I could hear it, but the elevator was not moving.
The other thing that helped me get through the negative experience of being stuck on the elevator was the presence of the workers and engineers. What was prominent in this perplexing predicament were the positives of promise and presence. The negatives of noise and non-movement were overcome by promise and presence.
In 2009, two Notre Dame Professors, Tim Loughran and Bill McDonald, researched the Harvard Dictionary and extracted all of the words that could be considered negative in common usage. I reviewed that extensive list and noticed that most of the negative words that began with “dis” could be associated with noise, because noise is generally considered negative.
Notice a few of the characteristics of noise: it disables, disarms, disappoints, is disastrous, discomforts, is disconcerting, is discordant, discourages, disgraces, disguises, is disgusting, disheartens, is disorderly, disorganized, dispels, displeases, disrupts, distorts, distracts, distresses, and disturbs. Noise is usually the opposite of peace and quiet.
Jesus blessed His disciples in this narrative with the promise that they would successfully reach the other side. Then He blessed the disciples with His presence. They were not left alone to deal with noise and non-movement.
So, what Jesus said to the disciples, the winds, and the storms was “before I handle your negative situation. Let’s get rid of the noise.” He actually said “peace” before He said,
So, tell your agony, your enemies, your burden, your challenge and your storm that Jesus said “Be Quiet.” You have His promise, and His presence…and yes, His power to handle your situations.
The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson is the senior pastor emeritus of the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, 17201 Southwest 103rd Avenue in Perrine. He is also an adjunct professor of religion at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.