The storm is raging. Each day the national news begins with breaking headlines about the corona virus: the number of new diagnoses, how many states are affected, the current number of deaths. We feel fragile, at risk, fearful.
We know it will probably get worse as more people are infected. Travel will become more restricted. We wonder just how much change to our routines will happen. I know some of you have plans for spring break to travel, and you wonder if that is still a good idea. We live in a world now exchanging elbow bumps instead of handshakes, electronic meetings instead of traveling to meet with groups of people, and the hand sanitizer is always within reach. Instead of being present in the moment, we wonder what will come next. We live in uncertainty, and we let our imaginations get the better of us. We want answers, and we want to know that we will be safe. We want to have certainty in our lives, but we don’t, and we miss it.
However, when we get right down to it, there is not much in life that is certain. We can let ourselves spiral out of control with anxiety, but of what good is that? We search for certainty, but certainty doesn’t exist for any protracted amount of time. Certainty promises us a life free of worry, but it is always fleeting.
Even though there is worry and uncertainty about the COVID-19 virus, it doesn’t have to shake us to our core, because at our core we have what we need. A certainty that will outlive any virus and will outlive all time: Jesus. Fear is prevalent in the world. It is a weapon we use when we are on guard and uncertain. It takes over when we forget that our utmost trust can be placed in God. Repeatedly, the Word of God to us in scripture tells us, “Do not fear.” Maybe we will get the virus, maybe we will not. But do not fear. Trust in God to carry you through the rough waters of this time.
The Psalmist tells us, “When I am dismayed, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) Our temptation is to put our trust in ourselves, but if we keep our focus on God, the one who is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, (Ps. 46:1) we can find calm in the mist of the storm around us. I find myself in the shoes of the disciples as they are in the boat on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25). Jesus is in the boat with them sleeping. A strong storm arises with high winds and waves so forceful they are shooting splays of water into the boat. The disciples, in panic, run to the sleeping Jesus to wake him. Once awake, Jesus rebukes the wind and the raging waves. They cease and there is calm. How we love calm! The disciples were both afraid and amazed. Jesus questions them, “Where is your faith?” We need this story today. Jesus can still the raging storm around us. That’s what trust in Jesus will do. Our perceptions change with this trust. Our foundation is firm.
“Where is your faith?” Jesus asks. Are you distracted by the storm around us, or is your faith in the foundation that created the world? The distraction produces anxiety. Faith grounds us in our loving God and Savior who knows our propensity for fear and anxiety and so promises never to leave us alone. Jesus will be with us through this storm and all the others to come.
Pastor Pam Schroeder