Jesus had been ministering to great crowds. Everything was going smoothly until Jesus called aside His disciples and instructed them to get the boat ready to go to the other side of the sea. The Lord left the crowds after a long day of ministry and and joined the disciples; He slept in the stern of the boat. Meanwhile a storm broke out and large waves began to pound the boat violently. The disciples realised that the sea was far too strong for them to fight; death seemed inevitable. Mark mentions a very interest point – in the middle of the storm, Jesus was asleep on the cushion, comfortable and undisturbed. The disciples were shocked to see the Lord seemingly unaffected by all that was happening around them and by their own distress. They woke up the Lord up with great complaints, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” The evangelist continues to narrate that the Lord awoke and calmly rebuked the wind and the waves. The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Life is not always calm for many of us. Some of us are caught in storms, struggling to understand them and wondering how to pray our way out of them. This gospel passage offers some insights for us to experience the salvation and peace that Christ can bring into our lives.
1) Jesus had instructed them to start the journey, yet there was a problem
It was the Lord himself who initiated the journey. The disciples merely obeyed Him. Yet, they had to face a crisis.
This is proof – that disturbances, problems and even storms in life – are not signs of the absence of God. Problems may and should come even if we begin the journey after consulting God. Some people complain, “Father, I prayed a lot and then took the decision to marry him. But it is a mess now.” There are those say, “Father, it is after a retreat and with the permission of God that I started this business. But now I’m in great debt.”
Even the Holy Family faced many great trials. They were even on the brink of a divorce even before Jesus was born. Abraham started his journey trusting in the Lord. But there were many hurdles. Joseph of the Old Testament received such promising visions, but had to endure such heartbreaks. Moses and the Israelites in their exodus out of Egypt faced tests practically every step of the journey. We see that in the life of everyone called by God and sent out on a mission – the path charted out for them is never a bed of roses, but a way of the Cross.
2) There is only one way
The modern world is obsessed with easy ways out, faster solutions and shortcuts. No one would opt for the “way of the Cross.” Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). The only way that leads us to the Father is the way Jesus lays out for us; and it is indeed the “way of the Cross.”
Therefore when storms hit us, we are not to get weary or anxious. We cannot afford to halt or give up our journey. No matter how terrible the problem is, we must know He is with us. Our God is in command. We are not helpless for He is in control.
3) How can ‘created world’ challenge the Creator?
I have often wondered how a strong wind would dare to rock the boat that carried Jesus and His disciples. How could creation rebel against the Creator? It was possible because God permitted it. He did it – so that something more precious – which is our faith – should be tested and strengthened. A faith that is not challenged will never grow but will weaken and die. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13)
The greater the testing, the greater is the confidence of God in us. He allows only the tests which we can overcome. Every time we give up and fall, we are disappointing God who knows our real strength.
4. Where are you Lord?
Do we feel that Jesus is sleeping through our crises? Maybe we have given up because we believe that God is comfortable in heaven and cannot understand our needs. The usual complaints are: “I prayed a lot, but God did not hear my prayer”, “I go to church everyday, but when I have a problem, no God comes to help me.” “I work hard for God. I do a lot of charity, but when I go through this financial burden, there is no one to make returns, while those who do not go to church are prospering”.
It is true that when we are deluged by the storms in life, we may conclude that God is sleeping. He may be silent but one thing is sure: He is with us. Whether He is silent or not, He is with us. His presence is all important and that alone makes the difference.
5. Seek the Kingdom of God
Perhaps we have begun our journey in a family, in a particular vocation or profession. Possibly we prayed much and made the decisive step in the confidence that this was the will and desire of God. Problems will arise. We cannot afford to get frightened. As long as Jesus is with us, we are safe. The Lord Himself gives us this assurance, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink…Can any of you by being anxious add a single hour to your span of life? But strive first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Cf Mt 6:25-34).
Every day comes with its share of trials. Howerver, we should never forget that we are promised – “His mercies are new every morning.” Our problems may seem overwhelming by our human standards. It may seem like our boats will capsize. We may not be stronger than the storms. But with us is a God who assures us that we have no reason to be anxious. He is with us, His power is greater than any storm and His peace will prevail. So let us strive to be right with God, for then alone shall all be well with us.
Written by Fr. Joseph Edattu V.C.