Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Faith for Life's Storms

Wednesday, June 27
Scripture Reading—Mark 6:45-52

“God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”  Perhaps you’ve seen that bumper sticker.  It’s an admirable statement of faith in God’s promises.  I admire people who have that kind of unwavering faith.  But the truth is, our faith often ebbs and flows.  Our sense of God’s presence with us fluctuates.  More often than we’d like to admit, in spite of knowing God’s love for us, we become anxious and stressed.  There are moments of crisis when we feel truly frightened, in spite of the conviction that God will ultimately protect us.  There are days of spiritual apathy when we may wonder if we are left alone in this world to find our own solutions to our own problems. You’re not alone, unique, or unusual if you have these feelings from time to time.  This section of Mark’s gospel is the second account of a miracle at sea performed by Jesus.  This miracle follows on the fantastically impressive feeding of the 5000.  Jesus has withdrawn to pray alone and the disciples have put out to sea.  A fierce storm arises, Jesus sees them, and begins to walk toward them on the sea.  Like the divine presence in the Old Testament that threatens to destroy those who get too close or see too much, Jesus is going to walk on by.  Jesus identifies himself.  The disciples get him in the boat and immediately the storm stops.  You would think that after all the miracles of healing, feeding, and corralling the mighty forces of nature, the disciples would have accumulated a strong faith that God would take care of them, provide for them, and protect them always.  But Mark concludes the record of this miracle not with the disciples professing unwavering faith, but telling us that they did not understand and that their hearts were hardened. Strong faith in the face of adversity would be a constant struggle for Jesus’ disciples.  Even after Good Friday and Easter, they still struggled to understand what all these things meant.  We do need to have confidence in God’s promises.  But we also need to recognize that faith is not something we can stockpile.  Like the manna given the children of Israel each morning in the wilderness, God gives us faith when we need it the most.  And even in those moments when our faith is mixed with doubt, our courage with fear, our peace with anxiety, Jesus stays in the boat with us as our constant friend, guide, and companion until at last the storm passes on by. 

Thought for the day:  It is human to experience faith mixed with doubt.  Even in our moments of questioning, though, God is with us.

Prayer:  O God, like the disciples, I have seen signs of your presence and deliverance in my life, but too often still find myself in situations where I question your purpose for me and your presence with me.  In those times, help me to take heart knowing that when I need it most, you will give me the faith I need to make it through the storms of life.  Amen. 

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