"It's Easy To Believe In God When The Sun Is Shining "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
We have just witnessed one of the biggest snow storms ever to hit the Northeast . Thirty inches of snow in Washington, D.C., over 29 inches in New York City and as much as 40 inches in eastern West Virginia with lots of disruption due to white- out conditions and flooding in other environs. The sun is now coming out and people will want to move back to normalcy in their lives, i.e. digging out cars and clearing roadways. The storm, no doubt, probably offered an opportunity, for those who stayed home and inside, for respite, reflection, time to be with friends and family.
Like meteorological storms, there can be occasions for people where there are storms that can occur in one faith's or spiritual life. Faith in God , however known, may come easier to people when everything is good, i.e. when there's money, shelter, good relationships, family functioning well, when the sun is shining.
However, when the atmosphere changes, the skies get overcast and the winds howl and the heavens either pour too much rain or snow, then the landscape of belief becomes questionable. The writer of the Gospel of Mark describes Jesus and the disciples traveling in a boat across the sea of Galilee.
" A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up and said to him, " Teacher, don't you care if we drown ? "
Jesus got up, rebuked the winds and said to the waves, " Quiet ! Be Still !" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Jesus said to his disciples, " Why are you so afraid ? Do you still have no faith? They were terrified and asked each other," Who is this ? Even the wind and the waves obey him ! " (Mark 4: 35-41 ).
When someone is facing a divorce or you have a family member who suffers from a mental disorder, or you know of a friend who will soon be homeless, the wind and the waves can feel ominous. Who will calm the waves ? I know someone who volunteers in their church. This person has actively helped a fellow parishioner to transition out of a residential care facility into an apartment. This miracle occurred because this individual and the church's parish concerns committee worked diligently to assist this person. I find this kind of support to be rare in a lot of churches.
Here faith in action helped to calm the waves and still the winds for this individual.
Luke Timothy Johnson in his marvelous book " The Revelatory Body Theology As Inductive Art " has observed:
"if we have eyes with which to see, to act as though God no longer acted in and through human bodies is to deny in the most fundamental way the entire import of scripture itself. "
What we do to help others does make a difference in their lives. We can provide that "Balm of Gilead " when people are struggling the most with the storms that occur in their lives.
Years ago, when I worked in Chicago, Il, one day when I came out the front door of the Northwestern Train Station to catch my shuttle bus to work. I heard someone call my name "Peter!", I turned around and saw this woman. She said to me" Do you remember me ? You changed my life. " I then recalled that I had seen her professionally at my previous position. It was very satisfying to hear from her that her life was going well and that she was happy. For her, the storms had passed, and she was able to experience faith again.
May our storms of faith pass as well. May we also be able to experience again the transformation of faith in our lives now and always.
May it be so.