Earlier in the day, Jesus taught the crowds and his disciples gathered at the lakeshore, Mark’s Gospel says. His words were wise and reassuring, words to set the course of your life on. “On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them ‘Let us cross to the other side.’” (Mark 4:35-41)
Then, he and his disciples sail onto the Sea of Galilee and “ a violent squall came up, waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern asleep on a cushion.” They were afraid they were going to drown, and Jesus in the stern of the boat seemed asleep, unaware of their fears. It’s hard to make him out in Rembrandt’s dramatic picture of the storm, above.
A good image of how life can turn out, isn’t it? Words of faith bring such strength and assurance. “Peace be with you.” “I am the vine, you are the branches.” “I’m with you all days.” “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Then, the storms come; unexpectedly, powerfully, with frightening suddenness sometimes, turning our lives upside down. Overwhelmed by life’s quick tragedies and doubts, we forget God’s assurances. Like Jesus in the boat, God seems asleep, unaware of our experience.
Mark’s gospel is good to reflect on today, isn’t it? A pandemic, political and economic storms, the planet endangered by wild seas and changing weather.
“The winds and the sea obey him,” our gospel today reminds us. God is for stormy times as well as fair. He doesn’t want us to perish. “Have faith,” he says, “I’m with you.” God’s with us in storms.
Still, like the disciples we say “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” ( Mark 4:37)