Faith and the Storms of Life
“Let us go across to the other side.” Mark 4:35-41.
In some ways that short phrase describes the spiritual life. Jesus is always taking us across to the other side – to new ways of believing, seeing, thinking, acting, new ways of being and relating to others, new ways of living, loving, and trusting. These new ways are God’s ways. To go across to the other side is, at some level, to enter into new territory, a foreign land waiting to be explored or more deeply experienced.
Sometimes we choose to make that journey. We decide to begin our inner work, so we seek out a spiritual director, a therapist, maybe a twelve-step group. Or maybe we take on a renewed discipline of prayer and study. Other times the circumstances of life – the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, retirement, moving to a new town or taking a new job, declining health and limited physical ability, divorce, the loss of a dream – bring us face to face with our changing life and world.
Ultimately, the journey across to the other side is the journey of change, of transformation. Sometimes the changes are welcome and sought out. Other times they are the last thing we wanted. Regardless of the circumstances under which our journey across to the other side begins, we almost always encounter stormy seas.
Mark tells us that “a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped” (Mk. 4:37). Mark is not, however, simply describing the weather conditions that day. He is describing the interior condition of the disciples. The real storm is churning within them. It is the feeling of vulnerability, being powerless, the fear of an unknown future, the sense of being abandoned, forgotten, and uncared for. Those are spiritual conditions – windstorms that blow us off course, waves that beat against our faith and trust, water that can drown life. They are real. I suspect, every one of us could name the times we have gone across to the other side and the storms we encountered.
In the midst of the storm the temptation is to believe that if we can just get out of the storm, get to the other side, then everything will be okay. Is not that what the disciples are saying to Jesus? “Wake up. Do you not care about us? We are perishing. Do something. Fix it. Make it better.” They are living with the illusion that God is absent, asleep on the job.
Jesus responds to the disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Faith, however, does not mean that all will turn out as we wish.
Faith means that regardless of what happens all shall be and is well.
Faith recognises that in the midst of the storm God is present and we have never been abandoned, forgotten, or left uncared for.
Faith does not change the storms of life, but it can and does change us.
So, the question for us is this: Where do we put our trust, in the storm or in the God who is Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer?
Every time we cry out, “Do you not care? Where are you? We are perishing, do something!” we have said that the wind and the waves are bigger and more powerful than God, we have denied the presence of God, and we have given our faith to the storm. Jesus’ response is always the same, “Peace! Be still!” He is not changing the weather. He is speaking to the storm that rages within us. He is inviting us to change.
In the midst of the storm I want to say, and often do say, to Jesus, “Don’t just sit there do something.” His response? “Don’t just do something sit there. Be at peace. Be silent. Be still. Know that I am God.”
Resilience in Life and Faith - Debbie Hawker Tony Horsfall
Michael Marsh Blog
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Everything Is Gonna Be All Right: Devotionals for Faith and Encouragement - Robert Hasley
Finding Jesus in the Storm - John Swinton
Gentle and Lowly - Dane C. Ortlund
Faith and Will - Julia Cameron
Walking by Faith Swaddled in His Glory - Regina D. Thomas
Beyond the Storm: How to Thrive in Life's Toughest Seasons - Debra B. Morton
Unshakable Hope – Max Lucado