photo of bare tree branches reflected in a dark puddle of water

Don’t You Care If We Drown?

“Don’t you care?” I’ve prayed that prayer more than once. In the middle of a conflict with Peter that seemed irreconcilable. In the moments when my grandmother was dying and I couldn’t get to her bedside to say goodbye. And, whether I say the words out loud or not, every time I’ve worried for our kids.

“Don’t you care if we drown?” It’s the question the disciples ask Jesus when they find him asleep in the back of a boat while they strain to cross a stormy sea in the middle of the night. This story shows up in Mark 4, and I’ve always been very sympathetic to the disciples. Why is Jesus asleep in the midst of such a harrowing experience? Doesn’t he care?

Lately I’ve wondered whether I misunderstood this whole scene.

First, before Jesus says anything to the disciples, he responds to their desperate cry. He “rebukes” the sea. I wonder whether this little moment offers us an invitation to bring our accusatory prayers to God. To pray out of a sense of abandonment and fear and anger. I love that Jesus doesn’t ask them to pray “correctly.” Even in the midst of their accusation and exasperation, Jesus responds by caring for them.

Second, I wonder whether it’s because of that very accusation that he later asks about their lack of faith. I always thought he was wondering why they didn’t have faith that he would calm the sea. But maybe he’s wondering why they don’t have faith that he cares and can do something to help. Maybe if they had woken him up with a different plea: “Jesus, help us!” he would have commended them for their faith instead.

I’m encouraged by this passage right now because it reminds me that I don’t have to come to God with perfect prayers or proper theology in order for God to respond to me with love and care. But I’m also encouraged that I don’t need to understand what God is going to do or how God works. I’m only asked to trust that God is love. That God is present. That God is always protecting, always hoping, and always working alongside us. And I’m encouraged to cry out to God, whether in accusation or in faith, and stand amazed when God does indeed show up.

photo of bare tree branches reflected in a dark puddle of water with a circle in the middle and text in the circle that says Don't You Care?


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