When the Storms Come

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday June 23, 2024

Why does God allow our suffering? It’s a question that every single one of us will eventually grapple with sooner or later, if we have not already. Whenever someone makes an appointment with me in my office, I always prepare myself for a heavy conversation. Rarely does anyone come in to tell me about how everything is going great in their lives. On the contrary, my office can be a house of tears. It’s similar to the confessional room in the church, where confessions are heard each week (Tuesdays from 5pm to 6:30pm and Saturdays 3:30pm to 5:00pm). Tears flow in that place as easily as breezy air. It’s a common sight to see a long line of our fellow brothers and sisters with broken hearts and even broken lives waiting patiently for their turn. As I listen to their pain, I can’t help but beg Jesus under my breath, “Lord, help them. Please take away their suffering. They need you.” 

When suffering overwhelms us, we can feel like Jesus’ disciples in the boat that we heard about in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. The story begins with them crossing the treacherous Sea of Galilee. It is known, even to our modern day, to have unpredictable swells. Strong, driving winds can whip up huge waves in an instance, causing the boat to capsize into the cold dark waters. In fear for their lives, the disciples cry out to Jesus for help, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Cf. Mark 4:38-40). Stop here. Notice the conclusion they have made about Jesus. In the midst of the “violent swell”, they wrongfully believe that God has left them; he does not care. How many of us have thought the same thing when life knocks the wind out of our chest? Have we all not cried out in our deepest pain to God and yet heard nothing but devastating silence? It’s precisely here that many of us make decisive mistake like the disciples and think God abandoned us. Nothing can be further from the truth. 

Let us return to the Gospel story; Jesus is now roused awake from his nap. He looks at the storm and commands it, “Quiet! Be still!” To their shock, the winds immediately subside and the waves cease. Their mouths dropping in awe. One second ago they thought they would die and now they live. He turns to them and says, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” When the suffering of our lives becomes overwhelming, we must remember this famous account. Jesus is trying to tell us a valuable lesson about his providential plan for us. We may not fully grasp why he allows these storms of our lives to happen or why he allows us to suffer, but the one thing is for certain – He is with us in the boat. He has not forgotten us. In fact, even more mysteriously so, He is suffering with us.