Thought of the week
Stilling the storm
‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ The disciples are frightened and angry as a great gale whips up on the Sea of Galilee threatening both their boat and the other boats accompanying them. Jesus is sleeping through it all, on a cushion in the stern.
Mark’s account of the “stilling of the storm”, which is the Gospel reading for 20 June, pays particular attention to the disciples’ rebuke towards Jesus. Mark is writing his Gospel during a time of persecution for those early Christian communities. Some of those new Christians would have known Jesus personally before his Ascension and the empowering of the church by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They are no doubt feeling that life for them is now like a storm, but Jesus feels absent; God seems silent. Perhaps they want to cry out to God: “Where are you? Don’t you care about us?” Jesus’ reaction in the Gospel story is interesting. He doesn’t rebuke the disciples for their accusation. Instead, he rebukes the wind and says to the sea: “Peace! Be still” and the wind ceases, and we read that there was dead calm. Then Jesus asks them: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
We may well relate to how the disciples were feeling in that boat during the gale. Life can bring us unexpected challenges that rock our boat and test our faith. I remember such a time when I was a young mother and was adjusting to the diagnosis that our second son had been born profoundly deaf. I remember shouting at God in my anger and fear about how we would cope. Like those disciples in the boat, I was then overwhelmed by the calming presence of God who seemed to be saying: “At last you’re communicating honestly with me” and reassuring me through his calming presence that he would be with us in all that lay ahead.
The miracle of the stilling of the storm reminds us that when we are going through difficult times, we can cry out to God, expressing all that we feel – even anger and accusation. God hears our cries, even when we feel that he is absent, and will lead us to a renewed faith and awe like those disciples who said to one another: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”.
A prayer by Jeffrey John.
Give us Lord the grace to walk by faith,
through every storm of life to keep our eyes on you.
And when we fail to see, or start to sink,
stretch out your hand to raise us up.
So may we learn to hold to you through good and ill,
until we come to the haven where we would be,
in everlasting joy and peace.