[gtranslate] Facing the Storms of Life - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

Facing the Storms of Life

Facing the Storms of Life

It is one of the shortest but most impactful commands uttered by the saints, the angels, and even Our Lord himself: be not afraid. Whether it be from the mouth of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, or St. John Paul II to Catholic youth, it is timeless encouragement that’s worth pondering. In the context of St. Peter in the storm described in Matthew 14:22-33, this charge challenges us to accept three unavoidable realities of life.

The Storms of Life Will Come

According to verse 24, the boat was “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” Interestingly, the image conveyed by the Greek verb “buffeted,” or βασανίζω, which means to torment or torture, evokes a harassing tumult. It is in this moment where the apostles are the most vulnerable. And yet, two verses earlier we read that Jesus had made them go out into the boat, understanding in His divinity that His companions would be caught up in the tempest. Perhaps the correct question to ask, then, is not if the storms will come, but when?

God calls us to stormy moments in life and to see these tumultuous inconveniences as opportunities. As G.K. Chesterton once quipped, “An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered. An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

We must recognize this reality and face it head-on. Take courage!

We Must Get Out of the Boat

If we are to become who God created us to be, we have to step out of the boat like Peter, as opposed to the other apostles who remained paralyzed in fear. Peter had an interesting mix of fear and brashness. He was tough and hard-headed; he had a strong personality with a hard-charging tendency that, although early on led to many failures, eventually became an ingredient that Jesus used in Peter’s journey to martyrdom. When Jesus told the apostles that he must suffer and die, Peter responded with an emphatic “Never!” And yet, Jesus directly confronted this diabolical attitude in Peter. Indeed, it is diabolical to avoid the Cross. We must embrace the trials that come our way!

Peter is often remembered in teaching and preaching because of his profound failures, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that he got out of the boat. In moments like this one from Matthew’s Gospel, Peter demonstrated tremendous courage in the face of the storm. With great failure comes great redemption. And Peter experienced this.

Keep Our Heads Up and Our Eyes Fixed on the Face of Christ

One of the first lessons I ever learned when I played football was proper tackling technique. It’s vital to keep your head up when you hit your opponent. You have to “see what you hit;” otherwise, you risk damaging your neck and spine.

Peter was able to imitate Our Lord and briefly did the impossible: he walked on water. But when Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he was overcome by the storm around him. He was like that inexperienced football player that lowered his head just before impact.

When Jesus meets us in our day-to-day lives, in either the mundane or the profoundly stressful and terrible moments, and we do not expect it, we may grow defensive, stubborn-headed, or hard-hearted. We become entrenched in our fears and anxieties, in our negative patterns of thought and action that we’ve habituated. But these blind us to recognizing His Presence among us. If we keep our heads up at the point of collision, we will be able to behold Him.

In the very midst of our trials, when we’re most vulnerable, and our weaknesses are exposed, the Lord comes to us. Our moments of greatest trouble are the Lord’s moments of greatest grace. Whenever, wherever, and however we least expect Him, He comes. He calls us out of the comfort of our self-defeating attitudes, vices, and attachments to comfort (both physical and emotional) and bids us come to Him through the trial, through the adventure, to be caught up in His love and peace.

When the storms come, let’s abandon our paralyzing fear and get out of the boat of comfort. In doing so, we will have the vision to journey further into the Heart of Jesus Christ. Help us, Lord, to be not afraid!

Photo by Boba Jovanovic on Unsplash

Seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer