The headlines read like a series of horror stories to many. Ebola and other infectious diseases make the news and we wonder about our own health and safety. In fact, many hospitals around the country are preparing for a flood of people who think they have some grave disease because the flu season is upon us! War rages in the Middle East and a group calling itself The Islamic State is ethnically cleansing the Christians and other minority groups, even killing children because “they may grow up and seek revenge against us.” Religious citizens in America are confronted with the reality that they are growing more and more the despised minority because of the society shifting away from traditional morals. Why even the city of Houston is considering passing an ordinance to inspect the sermons of churches in the city to make sure they don’t violate the new “don’t say anything that might make me feel bad” attitude in the country!
Whew! Some might suggest the glass is not only half empty, it looks like they are going to take the glass away too!
There is no denying there is a “storm” of trouble around us and the cavalier attitude of many willing to throw off centuries of wisdom all in the name of some idolatrous (and illusory) notion of “fairness” is terrifying to many (including me!). It’s tempting to push the panic button and declare “all is lost” or “if we don’t win this election, all is lost” or “if we don’t pass this law or defeat that law or change the courts, then all is lost.” It’s tempting to feel that way, but there is a deeper and more fundamental reality that we who say we believe must confront! It’s going to take some courage, and it’s going to take some sober faith. Ready?
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning. At that time, Jesus entered a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water, and they obey him?” Luke 8:22-25
The disciples saw the storm raging, but instead of noticing that the Lord was at such peace He was asleep, instead of remembering the power displayed by the Lord in healings and feeding the hungry and casting out the demons, instead of trusting that if the Lord said they were going to the other side, nothing would prevent the Lord from doing as He said, they were intoxicated by the immediate worries of the storm they were fixated upon! In other words, where was their faith?
A note of caution here. This isn’t about some fatalistic notion of “inshallah,” or the Christian equivalent of that counterfeit known as “predestination.” Not at all. This isn’t abandoning myself to fatalism at all. That isn’t faith! No, the faith the Lord calls His disciples to embrace is the robust faith that is positive and joyously free! It’s the faith that says these temporary circumstances are 1) not unknown to God; 2) not beyond His power; and 3) not the worst thing that could befall a human!
The Lord confronts His disciples about their faith because unless your faith “grows up” to the sober and joyous maturity of seeing beyond the temporary “rescues” of circumstances to the deeper and more life-producing faith that looks beyond the temptation for temporary “comfort” you will always be a slave to whatever life may throw at you and you will remain an infant in faith. No, this faith the Lord confronts His disciples to embrace keeps in mind that “no weapon formed against you will prosper” (Isaiah 54:17) because even if you face what too many see as the ultimate human tragedy; suffering and physical death; your Lord has overcome physical death. Period! The greater tragedy is to be devoid of this eternal perspective that tempts you to medicate your fears with selfish living and false hope in created things to “save” you! That is the ultimate delusion. That is the ultimate human tragedy, because it has eternal consequences!
Today, where is your faith? Why are you so easily captured by doubt and fear in the face of the Lord Jesus’ blazing the trail of victory before you? Why is it so easy to panic? I’ll tell you why, because we all suffer from moments of weakness. So, why not freely confess my own moments of weakness, and cry out as the Church teaches me “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” It is in this constant honesty that, slowly but surely, my faith is matured and strengthened and made able to see beyond the momentary blinding pain of a moment in time, to the reality that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Are you faced with a bad situation? There is no guarantee that there will be “rescue” but their is the promise that you will NEVER be abandoned by God and even this bad time will, if you hold on to your faith, make you more prepared to enjoy Him forever! Where is your faith? THERE it is!