Job 38: 1, 8-11; Mark 4: 35-41
For weeks now there’s been one message on the board out in front of the church that simply reads, “No one heals by wounding another.” I believe they are attributed to Saint Ambrose but were put out there shortly after the riots and protests here in Baltimore, but as another week passes, they once again take on new meaning as we watched the news unfold in Charleston this week. Throughout the month those words have been in the back of my mind and when I heard this story and read some of what this boy, and he is a boy, had written, all I can think of is how much hurt, pain, anger, and hatred this guy was holding onto in his life and how can that be at such a young age. How can someone possibly hold onto so much in their life?
I think we’re almost conditioned to project or pass on our hurt that we hold onto. It’s much easier to send it out onto others than to look at it in ourselves and accept it as our own. We keep seeing it over and over again, people, men so often, with these deep-seeded storms within them that erupt on such a grand stage, inflicting pain and death onto others. It saddens me a great deal to watch it unfold and to think about such pain and hurt that people hold onto in their lives, never to enter into that darkness and what they fear the most, but rather inflict it on others, possibly too much to bear themselves.
Storms, like we saw here last night, are a part of who we are. They happen within all of us and they happen to Job and the disciples in the first reading and gospel this weekend. Of course, pain and hurt, suffering, is nothing new for Job. He is in many ways the iconic figure in the Hebrew Scriptures of suffering. But note, that despite the great suffering that he endures, the reading begins today by telling us that God speaks from the storm. Prior to this passage Job does what Job does; he’s lamenting his suffering to the Lord, crying out in some ways of what he is enduring. It’s all he can do! But the Lord doesn’t come from on high. And the Lord doesn’t come at the storminess of Job’s life. No, rather the Lord speaks from the storm, from the very place of pain and suffering that he is lamenting, the Lord speaks. The place of our greatest pain and fear, God’s presence is revealed. Too often we think, especially in those moments, that God is somehow absent or out there somewhere, but like Job, we are left with our own lament on life rather than dispersing on others. Even in the midst of such darkness in his life, the Lord is present and not just on the sidelines or on the shore, but right in the thick of the storm the Lord speaks and reminds Job to remain patient. Remain patient through the storm and birth will take place. It may feel painful right now, but lament rather than projecting and giving into the temptations. Remain faithful and life will follow, says the Lord from the midst of the storm.
The disciples are facing their own storm in today’s gospel as they find themselves off the safety of the land in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Storms are also symbolic in Scripture. They too are often projected onto the Sea by those who are experiencing such angst in their interior life. Notice that this seeming storm has no impact on Jesus as he sleeps the night away! The disciples, however, are embarking on the unknown in their life. They have set sail into the unknown, perceived territory of the enemy, the Gentiles not knowing what to expect other than what they have been taught to think. Yet, right now they’re on their way, crossing over to the other side, still uncertain of what it is that can be expected. All they know is their fear and the unknown that accompanies it along the way and causing a great deal of anxiety in their lives…and a storm ensues them and it’s not only experienced in the Sea but within themselves. They have grown up with impressions and judgments about the Gentiles, not much different than we grow up with when it comes to people that are different than us. They thought less of the Gentiles but at the same time thought more highly of themselves, the superior race. They looked down on them, judged them, and literally hated them in many ways. They weren’t to be trusted. But to begin to break that down, they have to go to that place of pain, that unknown, otherwise they continue to project onto them and in turn, judge themselves. They have to go to the place of pain an in turn both become healed, Jew and Gentile alike. But they have to enter into relations with the unknown, with what they have judged and put down, and when they do, it loses its power and healing begins to take place. No one heals by wounding another. They must face their greatest of fears in crossing that Sea, but like Job, life will follow, and in the midst of it all, God’s presence, calming the turbulent seas of their hearts.
We live in a world that is filled with much storminess and it’s in me, in you, and in the midst of our broken world and humanity, but like Job, God is present and speaks from the storm. Christ is in the midst of the storminess trying to ease the pain and the anxiety of his disciples so in turn calm the sea. We all carry pain, some much more than others such as the Job’s of the world who carry a great burden in their lives. But we are left with a choice as to what we do with this pain and suffering we carry. We can take the perceived easy way out of projecting it onto others, spreading our own pain onto others. Or we can walk through the storm, lamenting, knowing, as with Job, that life awaits, birth will break forth and the pain and fear will be forgotten. When we walk the storm, yeah, it may be hard and painful, frightening, cause heartache, but in the end, we heal, the wounded healers, and in turn, the world is healed through us. We are faced with many storms. We can continue to politicize them and keep them on the surface only creating more suffering in the world, or go into the depths of the turbulent seas of Galilee, what we have feared the most, to be healed of all that hurts and to bring healing to those who hurt and suffer the most in God’s world.