Even if you’ve never been aboard a boat, chances are you’ve been in a storm, desperately seeking any port that you can find. In the Book of Matthew, we see the disciples fearfully tossed about in a boat, waves and wind thrashing against them. Then Jesus walks across the water to them. And he calmed the seas that raged all around their boat.
God did not prevent the storm. God doesn’t promise us freedom from bad things happening. Yet Jesus is there, taking the opportunity to lead his disciples out of danger. We see in this same tale the differences of faith. Peter tries to walk across the water to Jesus, but when the wind and waves come he begins to doubt. He begins to sink.
This morning, my pastor’s sermon focused on another section in the Book of Matthew. He spoke of Jesus telling his disciples about how not a single stone will be left of the great buildings, how nation will turn against nation. Indeed, it sounds very much like Jesus is describing an apocalypse even darker than the storm faced by his disciples.
Yet later during this encounter, which is also described by both Luke and Mark, the disciples ask Jesus about this. And Jesus clarifies the misunderstanding. It isn’t about the end of the world, it is about new opportunities.
Buildings will fall, earthquakes will happen, wars will erupt, tragedy will strike, and yes, storms will come. Yet what allows Jesus to navigate these disasters, what allows him to calm the storms, is faith.
I know that I have had my own storms. Everyone has their share of storms, and my depression adds its own dark clouds to the mix. Yet one of the things that helped pull me out of the storm was church. No, Jesus didn’t walk out to me to calm my storm. Or maybe He did.
He tells us that wherever two or more are gathered in His name, He is present. And for me that is the most present I have ever felt Him. Finding a sense of community is about more than just who you say hello to when you go to church. It is about shared strength. It is about lending faith when you are sinking in your own storm. God walks with you when you cannot carry yourself, and I believe that many times He walks with you through the footsteps of others. And for me, that is very comforting.
In fact, it is more than comforting. It is a life preserver that I can grab onto when the storms start to threaten me. Yes, the shared faith of my community is important, but if church and organized religion isn’t your thing, there is more than enough science to say the same thing that Jesus says. Community support, which can come whenever two or more are gathered, can change the outcome where storms of mental illnesses are concerned.
And like Jesus, those communities, that shared strength, can calm the darkest of storms.
Have a good week everyone.