Unparalleled in the Old Testament, the Book of Job questions the limits of faith. It demands answers from a God who seems unmoved by innocent suffering. Job had lived an upright life, confessing his faith in a God in whose power it was both to give and take away. Confronted with a catalogue of unprecedented personal tragedy, he had lost the will to live. He was torn between the longing for oblivion and an equal longing to be reassured that God was, in some obscure way, hidden in his pain.
We are indeed fortunate if we do not, at some stage, face a similar dilemma. Where is God when inexplicable tragedy overwhelms our lives? Where is God when faith grows cold, when, in heart and spirit, we are bereft of every comfort?
Ultimately Job received no rational answer in the normal sense. What he did receive was the understanding that the God who is the source of our joy is sometimes revealed in our deepest fears. Such was the truth revealed in the Christ who died on a cross, who took to himself humanity’s darkest moment.
St Mark’s account of the calming of the storm revealed Jesus as the Christ whose power to save was greater than wind or sea, greater than the frailty of our flagging faith.“Let us cross over to the other side.”
The disciples, with Jesus in the boat, had set off with confidence. We, like them, begin our journey with confidence. We place our trust in the God who is with us always, who nurtures us daily in word and sacrament. Such confidence that we have cannot imagine the fearful emptiness of a pain apparently unacknowledged by God. Such was the blinding fear of the disciples who roused Jesus from his sleep.
“They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down?’ We cannot command our fears and emotions. We can, however, surrender them to the Lord. He alone has the power to quieten our inner turmoil.
“And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: quiet, be calm.”
The same Lord speaks reassurance to every troubled heart. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. I have overcome the world.
This article first appeared in the latest edition of the Catholic Herald magazine (19/6/15).
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