Have you ever being lost before or being at a point of extreme distress? Have you ever found yourself at a dead-end situation and all hope is lost? If you have not then listen to my story from way back. It was supposed to be my first swimming experience and I was less than ten years old. Being so sportive and acrobatic, I thought it was a matter entering into the water and swimming with instant automation. Instead of starting from the shallow segment, I dived into the deep end because I saw little boys like me swimming at that end. What followed was nothing less than nightmarish.
I was eaten up by the water while trying to touch the floor of the water with my feet; in fact I was lost. I kept struggling in the water while drinking unsolicited litres of the universal solvent. My world seemed to be ending when all of a sudden a hand caught me and pulled me out of the water. In my little mind, I just emerged from a deadly storm.
Life is not all about sunshine, often there are storms and they come in various shapes and shades. Some pass through storms in their families, some pass through financial storms, some pass through storms in their employment, for others there are storms in their relationships; in fact, the world is characterised by all forms of storms. Going through the gospel of today, we see our Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples being overwhelmed by a storm at the middle of the Sea of Galilee. They were practically trapped within the tempest!
Before going into the stormy experience proper, it will be worthwhile to reconsider what brought them to the Sea in the first place. After the teaching on the mustard seed, it was evening and Jesus announced to his disciples that they will be going over to the other side of the Sea. Note that it was evening, and that was a time to retire, but he requested that they cross over to the other side that meant that something important was waiting on the other side of the Sea. A task needed to be done on the other side. There was a divine intention.
This was not the first time Jesus requested that they go over to the other side and there would always be a remarkable event. In Matthew (14: 22-32), Jesus asked them to go over to the other side while he went up to pray. Later, when they were faced with a storm, he came to them walking on the water. In Mark (1:38) Jesus also asked that they move over to the other side to preach and while doing that a leper was cleansed.
Significantly, whenever there is a moving over to the other side like we said earlier, something very important will take place. In the case of today’s gospel which can also be found in all the synoptic gospels (Matt. 8:23-27; Luke 8: 22-25) Jesus was on a specific mission. If you read Mark 5: 1-20, you will find out why he had to take an evening sail to that awful region of Gerasene. He was actually going to grant release to someone whose life had been besieged by a storm; he went to set a man free from demonic tempest.
While going on this mission, a great gale arose and the waves went against the boat. The tempest was really very turbulent and it seemed that they were going to head down to the floor of the sea to become food for the carnivorous sea creatures. The storm at that point has a lot to tell us. When you are out to accomplish some good and helpful tasks you will often experience stormy oppositions on the way. It happened to our Lord and you may not be an exception. Storms are often meant to show us the saving power of God.
Going further in our exposition, we are told that our Lord Jesus Christ was sleeping while the boat was tossed about by the storm. This will remind us about Jonah (1:3). In the case of Jonah he was cause of the storm, his sleep was an effort to evade blame. We could say he was sleeping on the problem he caused. In the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, he was (and still remains) the solution, the remedy for the storm. Jesus was not actually sleeping. He was attempting to teach a lesson. In any challenge in our lives we need to be calm and repose our confidence in God.
We need to realize that God is with us. This was what the disciples did not realize immediately that if Jesus is in our midst then no situation can outdo us. No storm can claim our lives. In their fear and desperation (not in faith) they blamed the Lord for their situation; in fact their question showed it all: “do you not care that we are perishing?” A question that has been answered in books of Psalm (27: 10); Isaiah (49: 15-16); Isaiah (54:4); Romans (8:28-31); 1 Peter (5:7). We can call on God either in faith or in fear and desperation. Often most people call on God with rumpled faith.
Often we call on God only to blame him on the storm facing us! We waste time asking God “why?” instead investing our faith in His unfailing power to save us. The disciples at this point were more hopeful of dying than living because they lacked faith in God who was actively in their midst. More like starving in the midst of plenty.
Storms still rage in our lives till date. It is important to note that storms are existential facts of life. God did not promise us that we will not face stormy situations but he assured us that in them all He will be with us. In the First Reading (Job 38:1.8-11) we are told that God answered Job out of the whirlwind, put in another way, God answered Job out of the storm he was passing through in his life. There is no situation that God cannot handle. This simply tells us that the storm we experience today will come to pass. The word of God said: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
It is often said that after the storm comes sunshine. We are required to do one thing. To have faith in God because he cares about us no matter the degree of the storm. If we anchor our faith in God, the words of St. Paul in the Second Reading will become relevant for us: “ If anyone is in Christ (by faith), he is a new creation; the old (storm) has passed away, behold the new (sunshine) has come. (The words in brackets are mine).
Remember David, he also faced his own storm in the hands of Saul who wanted to kill him. In his troubles, pay attention to what he said: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.” (Psalm 57:1). In another place he testifies: “He calms the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea are hushed.” (Psalm 107:29). This could also be your prayer in the face of your own storm.
You may be going through a storm at this time in your life. It may be financial, it may be health, it may be employment, it may be academic, it may be family based, it may be community based, and it can also be spiritual. You have to be sure of this; every storm must come to pass. The storm may be above your head but every storm is under the feet of God. With your faith in God’s unfailing words, those storms will pass away and like God assured his people in Exodus (14:13), “…you will not see them again”.
We are encouraged by the word of God today to go over to the other side. You have always being on this side of fear and hopelessness; you have always been on this side of doubts. Now there is an invitation for us to sail over to the other side of divine encounter the other side of faith, the other side of perseverance.
Evidently, it is on the other side that we can record an effectual divine encounter. It is on the other side that we can experience divine liberation. There is need for us to realize that the Lord is in the same boat with us as we sail to the other side. This simply means that God is with us and if He is with us, nothing can be against us. On the other side the storms will be over. Let us meet then at the other side of faith and total trust in God.
Have a wonderful week ahead.