“Don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather…” Lena Horne, 1943
Job is finally given a solution to his troubling life, St. Paul is positive for a change, and Jesus sleeps through a stormy storm with wailing, unfaithful apostles. (I bet Jesus even had a cushion.) It’s those life storms that no one can escape. If it hasn’t happened to you, then you live in “la-la land.” In other words, it’s been happening to you; you didn’t know it.
The longer you live, the more those storms are gonna rock your boat. A favorite phrase that I’ve been using and will use again is, “What life throws at you and what you throw at life.” The question remains, how do we deal with a storm whose wind and rain seem unstoppable? Is it the cute platitudes of our Christian faith that sees us through? “It’s all in God’s hands.” That one I doubt because I still have free will, even without wearing a life preserver. “Let go and let God?” That’s not the partnership that Jesus sacrificed for us in connecting the divine and human. The worst of all and I will deny Communion to any Catholic who says it to me is a phrase that has two redundant pronouns and two repeating verbs with a “what” in the middle and says absolutely nothing. “It is what it is.” That’s called nihilism.
I remember hearing on the radio years ago about lawyers offering a “Christian divorce.” I smiled to myself in the car. Do they say a prayer together before signing the papers? Since the word “divorce” doesn’t exist in the world’s largest Christian church, what does that even mean? It means, to me, that we believe we can soften or dismiss our life’s storms through a misunderstanding of faith. That’s not calming those stormy waters as Jesus did. “Where’s your faith?” he challenges the apostles after the waters subside.
Divorce is a terrible, troubling experience. Just ask anyone who’s been through it. That’s just one of how many life examples. I will not bore you with my storms. But I can tell you that it’s the weathering of those storms, in partnership with God, that makes for a worthy, even if difficult, transforming experience. We humbly wake up Jesus to wake us up. Wake us up to face and even embrace each of life’s storms with the trusting faith God has given us.
For what does God proudly lecture Job in that same Biblical book?
The Lord said, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Tell me if you know all this.
“What is the way to [give the light its home]? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars [from the] heavens when the dust becomes hard, and the clods of earth stick together?”
Please, tell me if you understand.
Storms. They are not a God testing us as He did to Job. That’s a story for our spiritual formation. God doesn’t give cancer any more than He causes divorce, a lost job or alcoholism, or any storm storming over our heads. God gave us Jesus Christ. St. Paul affirms it for us today, “whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away;” [storms can be faithfully handled] “behold, new things have come.” Storms make us stronger when calmed by our faith.
When your storms hit, and I guarantee they will wake up Jesus from his peaceful sleep. (You may even wish to pull his cushion away, just in case.) Because he’s right next to you. In the same boat.