By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus AMEH
Readings: Job 38:1, 8-11; Psalm 107; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41
John Newton, the composer of the classic gospel song, Amazing Grace, was the son of an English Captain. After losing his mum at the age of 10, he went to sea with his dad. At age 17, he rebelled against his dad, separated from him and started living a wild life. He eventually joined a cargo slave ship to Africa, of which he soon became Captain. One night, their ship ran into a violent storm at sea, and Newton prayed to God in these words: “Lord, if you will save us, I promise to be your slave forever.” God heard that prayer, and the ship and everyone in it was saved. John Newton kept his promise, quit slave trade and became a pastor and composer of hymns. Amazing Grace was a composition in praise of God for his conversion.
Newton’s story is similar to the story in the gospel reading and psalm of today’s Mass. And today’s readings remind us of God’s power over the situations of our lives, especially the storms we face in life. These readings apply to us in very practical ways, and they say to us that God is the Lord, even of the storms of our lives. We shall thus draw three lessons from today’s liturgy of the Word.
God is never far
Because God is omnipresent and omnipotent, he is always close to us his people and can do all things for us. Jesus himself said he is with us always, even till the end of time (Mat 28:20). However, many times, the challenges of life make some people seem to forget that God is always there for them; they focus so much on the storms of their lives that they fail to notice the presence of the Lord of the storm standing by. Sometimes too, we think that we can handle the situations by ourselves and so we do not need God, but scripture says otherwise, for it is not by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that victory is won (cf. Zech 4:6). Until the disciples of Jesus in the gospel reading and Newton in our story acknowledged the presence of Jesus and called on him for help, the storm they battled with remained. Until we too call upon God for help, we definitely are on our own. God is never far from us, and no storm is too turbulent for him to handle, so when next a storm comes upon us, let us run to the Lord and be saved.
With God, every problem has a limit and an expiry date
When God is involved, it is only a matter of time before every storm dies down. Though Job suffered so much, God did not allow his sufferings to break him (that is the limit God set for him). In the first reading from the Book of Job, God used the sea to explain this: just as he has power to contain and limit the sea, so does he have power over our troubles. Scripture says too that “God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our limits” (1 Cor. 10:13), so, if we are going through any challenge, let us know that God has set a limit for them, and according to his word, that limit is within our capacity to handle. And just as it was with Job, with the disciples of Jesus and with Newton, every problem expires the day God says “Enough! Be still!” Let us trust God therefore, to give us the grace to face our trials and also believe in him to bring them to an end.
Every challenge ends in change
No one comes out of a struggle exactly the same. Our struggles and challenges in life either make us stronger or weaker at the end. However, he who truly faces up to his trials comes out better and stronger. Job had a new vision of God; the disciples had a new understanding of Jesus; Newton had a new life in God. These changes took place after they came out of their challenging circumstances. If we face our challenges with God’s support, we shall be transformed by them. Generally, our experiences of life help us to change our outlook and approach towards God, people and events, thus, not all trials end on a negative note. When challenges come upon therefore, let us ask God to also help us see what his will is for us in that particular circumstance.
In all things therefore, let us always remember that our God is master of every storm we will ever encounter in this life, and if we face our storms trusting in his help, we shall surely overcome.