12th Sunday Year B
Job 38:1, 1-11; 2Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41
Relax, God is in control
I found the inscription, “Relax, God is in control” in two different places; first, at a bank here in the US, and, in a taxi I boarded on my way home, in Cameroon. In each instance, these words made an impression on me even as I imagine why this scriptural inspired statement was posted conspicuously by the said persons. Perhaps the cab driver wanted to remind himself about speed limits; while on his part, the banker might have wanted to remain unruffled amidst much money which doesn’t belong to him. These are only speculations. In any case, that is a very relevant faith-filled assertion in our time, given the rising tides- fears, calamities, tension, worries, work pressure, phobias that have deeply seated roots in our day-to-day lives and activities.
How can one relax in times of tribulation? Hard, isn’t it? The harsh realities of life can break us down, leaving us in utter confusion. Job is a typical example of one who experienced a geometric progression of tribulations - to the point of cursing the day he was born. But then, when he realized the mighty power of God, Job confessed his unshakable faith when he says: “I know my redeemer lives!”(Job 19:25). Unusual happenings do not spare any one of us, even righteous people like Job. And since we don’t have control over storms and lightening, what matters is our attitude in the face of these challenges. “Heavy rains remind us of challenges in life. Never ask for a lighter rain, just pray to God for a better umbrella-that is attitude.”
In today’s first reading, God speaks to Job out of a storm. It isn’t the devil that caused the storm. No, God himself is present, a sure prove that He is Master of the whole of creation. He asserts his mighty power over the storm when He calms it down, appropriately. He tells Job that there is a limit to the storm, no more, no less. In other words there is a limit to every trial or tribulation. He has already set the limit and He is always near- God is not dead! “The temptations in your life are not different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure”(1 Cor 10:13). As such, we should neither retreat, nor surrender, even in the hottest part of the furnace, because He will calm the heat before it becomes unbearable. Keep in mind that God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. In fact, what does not kill you, make you stronger.
The well-known poem, “Footprints” reminds us about God’s presence in every storm. A man tells how he had a dream on scenes of his life on the shore of a beach with the Lord. He notices two sets of footprints in every scene of his joyful moments. Then during his most difficult moments, he finds only one set of footprints. So he asks the Lord, “Why weren’t you with me when I faced a lot of tribulations in my life? The Lord replies, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
In effect, God speaks to us daily as he did to Jacob in Isaiah 43:1ff: “O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”
Believe it or not, if God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring, and a sunrise every morning. “Do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Scriptures. He watches over us every moment, and He wants us to trust in his word.
Despite these assurance, replete in Scripture, many Christians still harbor irrational fears and anxiety, no less than the disciples in the boat as we see in today’s gospel text. Jesus is right there in their midst, yet they are scared to death by a storm. Hear them: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” It is alright to make a request to Jesus, but these men are tortured by fear as they already see themselves perishing! Their faith is little. Jesus challenges them on their lack of faith because they just betrayed themselves by their fears.
Too much fear is a mark of lack of faith. Worse still, many of our fears are exaggerated as a result of some wild imaginations. They are not real! How often do we make a mountain out of a mole hill by magnifying petty issues.
A man called his doctor’s office for an appointment. “I am sorry” said the receptionist, “we cannot fit you in for at least two weeks.” “But I could be dead by then!” No problem, if your wife lets us know we will cancel the appointment. What a fearful man, overshadowed by thoughts of death. It would seem we often stuff our minds with fears of death, the unknown, the future, and what have you. About our health, consider the inscription I found in a hospital-“We treat, but God heals.” He must be aware of your appointment in two weeks. So just tell him, keep me till then instead of nurturing thoughts of death.
It is unhealthy for one to be terrified by every passing wind. This can lead to bouts of anxiety which can affect our blood pressure. Studies have shown that episodes of anxiety can cause a dramatic rise in blood pressure. This can lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating and drinking of alcoholic beverages.
By the way, most of what we fear and worry about are beyond our control. So it is not necessary draining ourselves on such circumstances. Let us rather model our lives after a little child who laughs even when she is thrown in the air by her parent because she is certain she will land in the hands of the same parent. “Relax, God is in control.”
Jesus is very relaxed in the boat, having a sound sleep because the Holy Spirit is present and God is in control. This he knows. Don’t let the failures of yesterday and the uncertainties of tomorrow deter your sleep tonight. Learn to sleep like Jesus himself. A song which I like very much and which conveys this message has this lyrics: “God will take care of you be not afraid, He is your Shepherd through sunshine and shade, tenderly watching and keeping his own, he will not leave you to wonder alone. God will take of you still to the end, Oh what a Father redeemer and friend, Jesus will answer whenever you call, he will take care of you trust him for all.”