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Finding Purpose and Peace in the Storm

00:00 / 18:32

23 Jun 2024

Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Mark 4:35-end


-       Series of miracles in Mark’s Gospel starts here.

-       Miracles not arbitrary but demonstration of Christ’s power in and over all things.

-       Here power over nature: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41).


From Capernaum, Christ suggests they cross the sea of Galilee: “Let us go across to the other side” (v.35)…‘And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.’ (v.37).

God permits storms, sometimes leads us into them.

Not only does Christ lead them into this storm, he falls asleep and leaves them without his presence.

Not saying that God approves of things which cause storms, but he at least allows us to find ourselves in them, and sometimes he leads us into them.

He therefore has a purpose in them. To the world, a storm is a problem that may be futile or fearful. To the Christian it is meaningful.

The Purpose of Storms: From Fear to Faith

What is God’s purpose in storms? To move us from fear to faith.

Observe disciples’ panic: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v.38)

And Christ’s rebuke: “Why are you so afraid (deilos – cowardly, timid)? Have you still no faith (pistis)?” (v.40)

Panic and fear default reactions to storms: understandable if we look to ourselves and our immediate surroundings: life is fearful, we are weak and vulnerable.

Yet, faith can transform our perceptions and emotions. Faith can transform even our fear.

A Comparison: Paul in Acts 27:13-44

-       Another storm in Scripture, Acts 27 and Paul’s reaction.

-       This storm much worse: lasted several days, jettisoning cargo, neither sun nor stars appeared, no food, ‘all our hope of being saved was at last abandoned’ (Acts 27:20).

-       Paul’s response: says to crew, no loss of life, God appeared to me and told me, “So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told” (vv.22-25).

-       Paul encouraged the men, gave guidance and support, eventually helping to save their lives.

-       Observe that in the story of Paul, the storm does not cease but God gave Paul the courage and strength to endure the storm.

The Disciples and Paul

-       Two stories illustrate two responses: One blind panic and terror. One courage based on faith in God.

-       Which one would you rather possess?

-       Timidity and panic produce nothing good. Godly courage brings fruit and is infectious.

How then? Godly Practices

-       The practice of faith shares analogies with life: think of footballers practicing together for the challenge of the match.

-       So Christians do not become godly, peaceful, faithful, without practicing faith.

-       Prayer, reading/meditating upon Scripture, coming to Mass, seeking out godly encouragement, reading spiritual books, etc.

-       Practice for the storm. Storm the time to exercise the faith we have been practicing.

Awaken the Sleeping Christ

St Augustine encourages us to awaken the sleeping Christ:

‘So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperilled, your heart is taking a battering…Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? You have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him…A temptation arises: it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the sea. This is the moment to awaken Christ and let him remind you of those words: ‘Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him.’ Augustine, Sermons 63.1-3

Two ways of seeing this:

1)    Awaken Christ to still the storm out there.

2)    Awaken Christ to still the storm in here.

‘Sometimes he saves us from trouble;

Sometimes he saves us in trouble.’

Either way, we need to wake him up.

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