Jesus's question to the disciples in this Sunday's Gospel selection from Mark, "Why are you so terrified?" is the universal question that all of us must answer honestly as we navigate the problems of life. Our problems may be paramount to those of Job or something that may emotionally paralyze us momentarily such as the sudden realization of a change in the direction of our lives. The power of God as Creator as stated in the first reading from the Book of Job fills us with awe and tells us how God sets limits. The power of Jesus as He stilled the wind and sea also evokes in the disciples great awe and a deeper faith. So, where are we in our faith journey?
There is much in our world about which we should be terrified whether it just feels like we are a modern day Job in our personal lives or whether we are listening to the nightly news. The goal of life, as a wise homilist, mentor, and spiritual director reminded me years ago, is not just to keep living at any cost, but to live well and trust that Heaven will be my reward. In the midst of all that may transpire, slowing down and remembering this advice is calming. It focuses me more on the Lord than on myself or the problem at hand. It allows me to deal with the emergency in a relatively level-headed way and pray that the Lord is present in the situation.
Although I know that the Lord is always present, at times I, too, wonder "do you not care that we are perishing?!" This is the human conflict about how does a good and loving God let bad things happen to good people. In my mind, this boils down to what I trust more, the human or the Divine. It is not quite so easy or cut-and-dry at the time of a crisis, but the "down-times", where the storms are calmer than at other times, I try to reinforce my faith by remembering exactly how God has been present to me in the past.
My family now rents a house on beautiful Lake Washington, complete with a mountain view and forest scenery that includes magnificent bald eagles. It is awesome in the bright sunshine and in the misty rain. Sometimes I can see the snow-covered, faraway mountains and sometimes I can not. I know they are there because I have seen them and witnessed their beauty. Likewise, I know God is there, even when I can not see His work or feel His mighty presence. I often stop in the midst of a new, mounting family storm and just sit for a few moments to look at the lake. It works! I pray that you, too, will find a physical or mental place of serenity where you can remind yourself of our awesome though usually silent God and how well we are and will be taken care of, in this world and in the next. There is no need for anyone to remain terrified.
(Comments to Lanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.)