Readings for June 21. Job 38:1-11, Ps 107:1-3, 23-32, 2Cor. 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41
I write this blog to push myself to read scripture, and so that scripture has a chance to speak into my life, to "read" me. The Mark passage about Jesus stilling the storm is a perfect message for me right now, helping me deal with a few hard questions/stories I've heard from people and giving me something to offer to them.
The questions are about God's existence/nature. How can a loving God allow these things to happen? I heard variations on this coming from different points of view. One from someone watching a loved one suffer. One from someone who works in health care and sees apparently senseless suffering every day, and one from the point of view of despair at the state of the world. These aren't easy questions, they never go away.
"When God sleeps through the storm" is an excellent June 15 blog post by David R. Henson. It helps me to think about those hard questions of why things happen and where is God when they happen. Here is a bit of what Henson says;
"I don't really think the miracle in this story is about Jesus calming the storm and taking control. The miracle in this story is that Jesus was with the disciples in the water-logged and weather-beaten boat, experiencing the same terrible storm, the same terrible waves, the same terrible danger. And that alone should have been enough...God's power is revealed in coming alongside us, journeying with us, suffering with us, and even staying with us in the boat when the storms come...God's power is in simply getting in the boat with us, in the midst of terrible storms."
Personally, in the midst of the storms of struggle people have told me about, I understand them asking the ifs and whys and where of God. I'd be screaming for God to wake up too. Wouldn't a loving God fix it? If God cares, why is life so hard for people who don't deserve the struggle?
God isn't a "fix-it for us" deity, but a relational being, a companion in pain and a hope for eventual reconciliation. God is with us. Faith in God does not guarantee a struggle free life, but gives us a way to engage in the struggle rather than to hopelessly succumb to it. We are never alone.
But it's easy to preach from the shoreline, and quite another thing to be in the middle of the storm, trying to hold on to the boat. In the middle of crisis our natural tendency is to scream, panic, blame others, accuse... When the disciples wake him, they accuse Jesus of not caring. They should know better, but they are in crisis. When the crisis is past, that is when the clear thinking can begin. Jesus asks; "Have you still no faith?"
I wonder what they thought? I wonder how they rode out the next storm?
Another blog, this one by David Lose, asks the question: "Do you think the disciples were more frightened before the stilling of the storm or after?" At first they were afraid for their lives because of something concrete and understandable. They were scared because they thought God was absent or maybe non-existent. After, they are standing in the presence of the living God. Terrifying on a completely different scale.
What is it to be in the presence of God? I think sometimes it is in exactly those times we are out of control, where everything is wrong, that God is right there in the boat with us. What would happen if we were the ones to wake up to that awareness?
Here are the links to Henson and Lose's blog posts. Both good reads!