“Lord don’t you care that we are perishing?” Don’t you care that our friend is dying? Don’t you care that hunger and homelessness is overwhelming in our nation and around the world? Don’t you care that another hurricane is headed for the coast? Don’t you care that so many are out of work? Don’t you care that our bodies are aching and aging? Don’t you care that we are mourning? Lord don’t you care that we are grieving, angry, lonely, and scared? Don’t you care?!
What are your storms about which God and anyone else, for that matter, doesn’t seem to care? I don’t think it’s too difficult to apply today’s texts to our situations. David and Goliath too: What are the Goliaths in your life? Or WHO are the Goliaths in your life? The bullies, the intimidators, the taunters, the gloaters, the “dementors” (from Harry Potter—the ones sucking your spirit), the ones and the things keeping you up at night or waking you early in the morning?
And yet here you are today, in the face of giants and storms. Here you are. For whatever reason, you came. Maybe you wondered into this church, maybe you knew exactly why you were coming, or maybe you just came because that’s what you do. Anyway, you’re here. Amid the storms, you’re on the ship. You decided to brave the ship, on this particularly stormy day. And Christ is here too. And the waves are getting worse, and the more we “think about it”, the scarier and sadder and more overwhelming it is. The more we “think about it”, the more the boat is being swamped. Our anxiety takes over. Our fear and anger and pain causes us to lash out at Jesus. Why not? After all he’s sleeping up there, at the front of the ship. Fast asleep!
How could we not also, shout out, “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing? That we’re sinking?”
But here’s the thing: First of all, let’s remember that Christ is with us in the ship. He’s not just watching us from far away, be it the shoreline or heaven. No, he’s right here with us as the waves come crashing. That right there is a wonderful image: Jesus sleeping in the same boat where we the disciples scurry about, as waves crash and the boat tosses.
Maybe Christ is modeling something for us by sleeping: maybe he’s modeling being calm. Now I don’t know about you, but when crisis strikes that the last think I want to do, is take a nap.
The day Micah was born, came 5 weeks earlier than we expected. That day started with Heather’s water breaking, and without going into the whole story, there was a time at which the staff talked Heather into having a little medicine that would simply help her body rest, before she reached 10cm and needed to push. Micah wasn’t born until the evening, and this was at about lunchtime that the nurse administered this drug that caused Heather to drift off. Everything was going so fast: I was a first-time dad, it was at Christmas time and all our seminary friends had gone home for the holidays, our families were far away, and I had no idea what was going on – I hadn’t even read the baby books yet, I thought I had 5 weeks left to do that. I was so scared and anxious. And I had just watched my wife go under like she had just taken a dose of heroine. And that was terrifying.
And then that nurse, I remember, turned to me right after Heather went to sleep, and said, “This would be a good time for you to get some rest too.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! DON’T YOU CARE THAT WE ARE PERISHING? I just wanted to scream at her.
To suggest that we sleep during a storm sounds ludicrous, but there Jesus is, asleep.
I think “sleeping” is pushing it, for people like me, but what I do believe Jesus is showing us is being at peace in the midst of crisis and tragedy. Breathing deeply, like we do when we sleep. Filling our hearts with love and compassion, not anxiety and anger. Let’s breathe our way through these times….because Christ is in the boat with us.
When we “think about it” it can become too much to bear, but when we “pray about it” that burden is shared. And anyone who has been the recipient of prayers knows that that is such a gift. Jane knows it right now as she and Margaret and the rest of the family are at the center of our prayers these days.
And in the end, sisters and brother in Christ, in the end he does wake up. He does come back, and he does defeat the storms. And in the end there is peace. That promise we can trust. In the end, Christ is victorious, the monsters fall down, face first, the waves smooth out, and everything is still. And we can breathe. And our bodies are still, our heart rates calm, our shoulders untighten, our backs open up, and we are able to rest in the confidence that our God brings peace.
Watching the Sundes this week, is evidence of that. Margaret has been so brave and so loving. Jane, and Barbara, the third sister, and Joy the daughter, while they are all exhausted, they are all just so full of love and ultimately peace at this inevitable progression of things.
I wish the stone in the slingshot was a cure for cancer. That’s my Goliath right now. But the truth is, that in Christ, the stone that strikes down the monstrous forces of our lives, in Christ, because of Christ, that stone is not a stone of violence or of my will and wish, rather it is a stone of love. And a stone of peace. We can’t crush the dragon of cancer with a rock, but we can—and only with Christ’s help and the Spirit’s movement in our midst—we can overcome the dragons with love. “Peace. Be still.” Christ says. “Peace. Be still.”