Reflecting on the gospel/lectionary reading (above) this week, I wrote down this:
I don’t think faith is being unmoved by the storm—I think faith is being willing to acknowledge that there is a storm.
Time and time again in scripture, in countless myths and holy books, in our favorite movies, and books and songs; the moment that a main character becomes a hero, or at least becomes the protagonist/main character, is when they have the courage to acknowledge that there is a problem, and that it is bigger than they can fix on their own.
One of the things faith has taught me is that the problem is always bigger than me; pain, suffering, struggle, injustice, death, rejection. But in acknowledging the largeness of something, we also acknowledge our piece in being able to confront it—and the first step to confronting any problem, is recognizing that a part of it (or most of it) may be out of our control.
While Jesus is arguably the main character in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as he dies and raises and leaves the earth, the person “calming the waves and the wind” is gone. Initially, that thought scares me; because the parachute, the last ditch button to fix-all, has left.
Even after a miracle happens, or joy breaks through pain, the answers to our problems become less simple, less near to us. But faith calls us to recognize them anyway; to call to God in the midst of the storm, to ask for “peace”.
And then, faith calls for *us* to be the protagonist—the main character.
In a world that is as muddled as our own, and as scary as the times we are in now, sometimes “being the main character” doesn’t look so heroic; grieving; crying; saying hello to someone on the street; challenging the racism, or transphobia, or homophobia, or judgment of others in our own hearts. Sometimes “being the main character” looks like joining marches or protests; other times it looks like being present in the moment we are in, quiet and honest, with the people around us.
Many times, our response to pain and injustice aren’t the same as Jesus, because we aren’t Jesus—we can’t feed the 5,000, or raise someone who unjustly died from the dead. We can’t make a man walk, or calm the storm.
But if we hold to the truth that there is God in us—truth, goodness, love, and hope—and if we believe Jesus’ greatest act was coming to earth as a manifestation of God, then maybe our biggest act as “people of faith” is being here, with people, the same way God was.
The presence of God (love, joy, kindness, sorrow, justice, hope) in us is irrefutable. We are endowed with the longing to be present for those around us, and for ourselves; in joy, in pain, in justice, in hope.
Even if this is our only miracle—even if the storm rages on and no one says “Peace!” to the wind, or “Be still!” to the waves—even if our only “gift” or help, is being present in the pain, while the wait seems endless and the anguish continues, perhaps this is the greatest miracle of all.
Grace and peace in any pain, joy, sorrow, or hope you feel this week.
May love and truth meet you there—to sit, to rest, to act, to stand up—even if the storm rages on.