Jesus helps us to weather the storm

Dear Friends

It’s the thirtieth anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987 and there’s been quite a lot on the TV about it and, as I write, the remnant of Hurricane Ophelia has been battering Ireland and the West Coasts of Britain bringing back memories for many. For some it’s difficult to forget that night and the damage that was done; I’m embarrassed to say that I slept right through it, though not my wife who said she was waiting for the roof to come off and the windows to come in! I guess if you ask some of the older folk in our community, they’ll be able to remember storms of seemingly equal power and ferocity in the past but what strikes me is that with all our technological advances we can control many things but we can never control the weather!’

We all like to be in control, or at least think we are! It’s an issue that seems to govern so many aspects of our lives today, often in a powerful way. We like to feel we are in control of our careers, our relationships, our health, our finances and so on. But what happens when we lose that sense of being in charge, when we feel that things are spinning out of our control? Oddly enough, panic is the most common reaction and people can begin to behave in the most irrational ways – so much so that they seem not to be the people we know and love anymore.

St. Mark tells how the disciples are at sea in their ordinary, wooden-hulled fishing boat with its smell of salt and damp and stale fish. The stained and wet sails are straining under the increasing wind, and the ropes creaking – all so normal and familiar. But as the power of the wind and the waves increases out of control, Jesus is woken up by their anxious panic and they suddenly witness a much greater power and authority than anything in the created world as Jesus commands the storm to be still!

Jesus was actually asleep and the disciples woke him up to tell him to start worrying! It’s worth remembering who were among the crew of this vessel; Peter, James and John were all experienced fishermen! But the lake of Galilee was known for its sudden and ferocious storms with waves reaching over 20ft in height. With the stormy waves pitching the boat up and down, and water coming in over the side, it was beginning to look like a Titanic situation, and there was Jesus fast asleep in the bottom of the boat!

When life seems very scary everything seems to be wildly out of control. Like the disciples in the midst of the storm we sometimes react as they did, screaming out to Jesus, demanding that he take notice and do something. It’s almost as if we want him to join in our panic.

Often in life we will find that when we have invited Jesus into our boat (into our life) we won’t get so thrown by all the stormy problems; things like quarrels between friends, loved ones moving away, financial problems, pressures and stress at work. And if we’re panicking about them so much that we can’t see Jesus helping us to weather the storm, then often we’ll find that we’re given a breather – a bit of space – where things are calmed down long enough for us to realise that, with God in charge, we don’t actually need to be terrified.

With every blessing from your friend and Vicar


Revd. Arthur.

Vicar, St Gabriel’s Church