Last month’s storms – the storms of 2011 – are still very fresh in my mind. Even though it was only two weeks ago, it seems like an eternity has passed since then. Twenty-four hours of rain and wind and hail and tornadoes left a path of destruction all over the south. The hail on my deck was the size and shape of lemons or small potatoes! The wind blew so hard things were broken and torn up all around my house. Here in Knoxville, we had plenty of damage but nothing to compare to some of our neighboring counties and states….my heart goes out to all who are suffering. My house sustained damage so now after the storm, there remains the paperwork and inspections and repair work…..all a constant reminder of the event. Everywhere I go, the conversation seems to turn to: “how much damage do you have?” or, “do you know a good contractor?” Last weekend, I traveled to Nashville to give a workshop and a church talk only to find that every hotel was booked, mostly with people displaced from Alabama. My prayers are for them this week as they wait to have electricity and water restored.
As I work through getting everything at my house repaired and returned to normal, I am praying about my own thought about this event. If I remember being huddled in my basement with my family, I am tempted to be feel frightened like I did that night. So, instead, I remember a story I read in the Bible about a storm. In the story, the disciples and Jesus are on a trip across the Sea of Galilee when a large storm comes up — so large that the boat threatens to sink after so much water has entered it. How Jesus manages to stay asleep though I just don’t know. Some traditional commentaries on the passage say that he slept deliberately in order to test the faith of the apostles. If that is the case, then they failed, because they were so scared that they woke Jesus up to find out whether he cared if they all drowned. At this point, Jesus proceeds to end the storm and restore the sea to calm. He rebukes the others for not having faith — presumably, they should have trusted that nothing would happen to them while they believed in what he was teaching them. It apppears this story is supposed to teach us not to be fearful of the reports of chaos and violence around us in our lives. First, if we have faith, then no harm is to come to us. Second, if we act as Jesus did and simply command the chaos to “be still,” then we will achieve an inner sense of peace…. and thus be less troubled by what is occurring. Then, we are able to pray about it. The calming of a raging storm fits with other stories where Jesus’ power is manifested against raging seas, hordes of demons, and death itself. These stories are the proof that we can overcome any obstacle that is in our path.
Christian Science does not teach humanity to “ignore” the storms of life. It teaches one how to handle the storms by a total (and sometimes radical) reliance on God. Christian Science also teaches me that it is never God’s will that his children suffer. I have heard some people say that these recent storms are because of the “wrath of God” or because God is mad at all of us. What a sad thought that would be….to think that God (Love) would send destruction to his perfect creation.