For the complete Sunday readings click here.
Have you ever gotten caught in a really bad thunderstorm? I’ll never forget the storm I drove through in Iowa one summer when I was just out of college. I was driving from Minnesota back to my parent’s house in St. Louis, Missouri with my future wife Liz and my sister Kate. We got a little later start than we had hoped and ended up driving late into the night.
That night was pitch black because of the thick cloud cover. The rain was falling so heavily that the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. The national weather service kept interrupting the regular radio programming to warn of tornados, high winds, and hail. No one was talking in the car; it was all I could do to keep the car between the white lines.
At one point a huge truck passed us and in trying to turn up the already maxed out windshield wipers, I accidently turned them off! In my panic, I couldn’t figure out how to get them back on and just kept yelling, “THEY’RE NOT RESPONDING!” My sister and wife like to laugh about it now, but at the time it was more scary than funny. We just wanted the storm to pass and to make it home.
In the gospel this weekend we hear the familiar story of the disciples’ stormy boat voyage. In a panic the disciples wake Jesus who quickly calms the storm. Jesus then says, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Honestly, I’ve always been bothered by this moment in scripture. Of course they were terrified! The disciples were exposed on an open fishing boat in the middle of a large body of water with lightning and thunder, high winds and driving rain. Waves of water were crashing over the side of the boat and threatening to capsize or sink the small boat with all the disciples in it. The risk of being hit by lightning or drowned in the sea would certainly make any sane person fearful. Yet, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith. Why?
Jesus was with them.
In our lives we are going to encounter many storms. Some storms are small, only lasting a moment or a day. Others seem like they will never end. We are going to encounter serious illness, financial difficulties, job loss, struggling children, betrayal, heartbreak, car accidents, loss of freedom, marriage stress, parents in crisis, and other causes of stormy life. Even without a direct cause, our life might feel like a storm if it is filled with anxiety about just meeting the demands of the modern world. For some of us, our day to day is one big anxiety fueled storm.
The key to this gospel, and why it is good news, is that no matter what, Jesus is with us. Jesus doesn’t abandon the disciples. Jesus rides out the storm with them. And with just three words, Jesus calms the storm. God is powerful and God is good. No matter what our storm is, God will be there with us. Even when the storm seems like it will never stop, Jesus remains faithful.
Maybe you or someone you love is in the midst of an overwhelming storm. Maybe you feel powerless in this terrifying moment. This gospel story asks us, “Will you trust God in the midst of the storm? Will you give Jesus your fear when high winds push waves into your boat? Will you let yourself believe God is more powerful than any struggle you encounter in life?”
Pray this simple prayer, “Jesus I trust in you.”