“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4.37-40)
Some look at me and say : “Poor girl! It would be better if she passes away!”
Others say : “Wouldn’t it better if God takes her with Him?”
Those nearer to you, Lord, measuring the sufferings in life, mumble : “Why does God permit so much? Can’t He send some of these sufferings to the wicked and the rich?”
I only say : “Lord, you are good!”
This is Ilda speaking. She had her arms and legs amputated because of complications resulting from a severe incident. She never gets tired repeating that HE is in the boat with her…
It is quite easy to relate ourselves to the Gospel of Luke 8. The apostles are in the middle of the sea in a raging tempest. The wind is strong, the sea is frothing, the waves are mounting. Underneath the Golan Heights it can be very treacherous. They were afraid. They panicked. Who wouldn’t? Even the Master is asleep, apparently indifferent to their fate!
How many times we feel the same. Problems come and we feel so alone. Not even God seems to care. We cry out but we get no answer. ‘I studied so hard for this exam and yet I flunked.’ ‘My wife died last week. She was only forty. What will I do now alone with four kids?’ ‘My husband just lost his job. Does God really care?’
Finally they decided to wake him up. “Don’t just be there! Do something!” He woke up, rebuked the wind and calmed the sea. Then He asks them a question : “Why are you afraid?” An odd question, to put it mildly! They were in danger of losing their lives, they were being tossed about in the boat which was rapidly filling itself with water… why shouldn’t they be afraid?
And He himself answers his own question with another question : “Do you still have no faith?” This is the reason why people are afraid, Jesus seems to imply. Because they do not have faith. Faith is the vaccine against fear.
Fear is the feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger. I feel ill-equipped to tackle the problem facing me .
How does faith eliminate the apprehension and disquiet which creeps stealthily in when I am facing a bigger problem than I can handle? What does faith give me?
Faith gives me the conviction that I am not alone in the boat. In the boat of life, we are never unaccompanied. There is always HIM. Who is He? He is the one who multiplied the loaves and the fish. The one who cured the sick. The one who raised the dead. The one who calmed the waters. The powerful and all-loving man!
Even asleep, He is powerful!
Faith gives me the conviction that the storm will not last for ever. Problems come, problems go. When we are in the quandary, we may believe that it is going to continue for ever. But it does not! Dawn always comes after the night. Always.
Tempests are important in life because they are the only facts in life which can help us really grow. They are not incidents which we have to bear but occasions which help us to mature and progress. They teach us to cry out to HIM. The apostles flunked the test, perhaps, but this was their gateway for a greater vision. Fear led them to respect. “They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” They have a better awareness of who is Jesus!
Cast all your cares on Him and when you have done so, leave them there! The night before he announced the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII recalls that he could not sleep. “John why are you not asleep? Is it you, the Pope or is it the Holy Spirit who governs the Church? It is the Holy Spirit, is it not? Very well, then sleep, John!”
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.