There is a wonderful old hymn written by Priscilla Owens that askes the question, “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?” Not only is it a catchy tune, it lays before us a significant point about the faith Christians proclaim, that God is love. The storms of life can be anything we face, from personal struggles of faith to a pandemic. Where our anchor is will have a considerable impact on how we weather storms.
A story from the Gospels (Mark 4:35-41) tells of a time when Jesus and the Apostles were in a boat and a storm came upon them. Jesus was asleep and as they woke him, they wondered how he could sleep through such a storm. Two things follow, Jesus calms the storm and then he gently scolds them for their weak faith.
We conclude too easily that this story is proof that Jesus is the Son of God, as if such a story could convince anyone. It might better be understood that the storm that was calmed was in the hearts and minds of the Apostles. When they decided to retell this story, they are critical of themselves for an apparent lack of faith.
What Jesus gives the Apostles in the face of a fearful storm is an anchor, a place of security and comfort, a place of love and trust. When we are afraid, one of the most difficult things to do is sleep, so it is significant that at first, Jesus was asleep. He was not fearful or faithless. Even before they roust him from sleep the Apostles are witness to a teacher displaying the utmost sense of trust.
It is like when my family was moving form one town to another. I asked my wife how she thought the children were fairing and if they were “okay” with the move. She said, “if we’re okay with the move, they’ll be okay.” We had a responsibility, as parents, to show confidence, comfort, love, and trust so that our children would succeed in making this significant change in their lives. The gift Jesus gave to the Apostles on that boat was what they needed to weather the storm.
We are weathering a pandemic; we have calm and faithful governmental leaders helping us through this time, particularly in the Public Health Office. We are blessed with healthcare workers, people working to bring us the goods we need, and many others (like teachers) helping create a sense of normalcy. It is incumbent on those of us who can, to show calmness and faith for the most vulnerable people amongst us. Many people are struggling during this pandemic and the rest of us can be gentle and kind towards them and help them through this.
At some point we will be beyond the pandemic, and many of the other issues that cause sleepless nights will remain: the climate crisis; discrimination against people of colour; the trafficking of human beings; reconciliation with First Nations peoples; equality for women’s rights.
When the pandemic storm ends, these other storms still rage. Calm, intelligent, loving consideration of the situation and a commitment to real change is possible. If those of us who can be calm are so, then everyone else will be too, and we will make real and lasting change. This is how our intelligence and capacity for love work together to create a loving and just world. And for the Christians amongst us we will do well to be, “grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”