Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Perfect Storm:

Mark's gospel, 4:35-41, is an account of a "perfect storm." The account of the disciples frightening adventure on the Sea of Galilee serves as a wonderful lesson about our dealing with suffering. Perhaps the picture above, frightening as it is, might bring to mind a phrase that we literally carry around with us in pocket, purse or wallet: "In God we Trust."

In Mark's account, the wave are bringing water into the disciples' small boat. The waters are rough and the friends of Jesus are terrified. Yet, the man to whom they had entrusted themselves lay asleep in the boat. Where was his concern for them at this near-death moment? The words spoken to Jesus when he awoke say much: (1) we are frightened; (2) we are sinking; (3) what are you going to do? and (4) why have you let this happen to us?

These are familiar thoughts and actual words we use today when confronted by events such as the loss of a job, the sudden death of a young person or a loved one, the seemingly never-ending suffering of a parent with dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. These questions, these realities speak of the challenges that confront our faith at different times in our lives: "Where is God when I need him?" Confronted by suffering moments in life, we can either believe and trust in God or ignore and question whether God truly cares or has interest in our suffering.

Jesus' question to the sea-and-wind-buffeted disciples should not be quickly forgotten: "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" He says the same to us when we elect to look upon Jesus as little more than a preacher who could produce a good sermon with some memorable (hope causing) remarks.

Believing in faith is not something we accept as handed on by parents or other teachers. At its root, believing is giving complete trust to someone we have come to know through study and prayer ... study and prayer. When we have come to know Jesus, to know and love God as the source of all good that can be in our lives, we can then say "In God I trust." It makes eminent sense that we not trust God in the face of suffering, fear and loss if we have not come to know and understand him as friend and creator, as the one always present to us.

Fr. Jonathan Morris, writes we "Catholics, Orthodox Christians and traditional Protestants" can learn much from our Evangelical friends and their relationship with Jesus.

He is a living person with whom we an form a personal relationship and through whose suffering, death and Resurrection we have been save from sin and death and given the opportunity for eternal life and the plentitude of happiness' (The Promise, p 40).
When confronted by painful realities on life's journey there is one question: "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" If not, then you are looking at Jesus as nothing more than the dispenser of "get-well passes." It is no wonder then, that one might question God's goodness when tragedy, loss and paralyzing physical or emotional illness beat against the sides of our boats!