Is God's Peace Always Possible (and Powerful Enough) to Calm Life's Storms? Cara Meredith

Is God's Peace Always Possible (and Powerful Enough) to Calm Life's Storms?

Cara Meredith

Is God's Peace Always Possible (and Powerful Enough) to Calm Life's Storms?

Sometimes I think that courage can only look big and loud, like an explosion of Tarzan yells found in performing death-defying feats off four hundred-foot skyscrapers.

But lately I’ve realized that courage is smaller and perhaps a little more quiet. And if I’m honest with you, I’ll also tell you that I’m beginning to believe the deepest kind of courage doesn’t always come in flashing neon signs but in peace-filled whispers of the heart.

A couple of months ago, my family received news that we would unexpectedly be moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area – and this was exactly a year and a half after moving to the Pacific Northwest for my husband’s job. Moving was not in any set of plans we’d laid out for our lives, and it wasn’t exactly the most welcome news either one of us wanted to hear.

Responding to the Storm

My immediate response was to mourn every one of my perfectly laid plans.

“But I just finished lining up the summer schedule!”

“And we just found the perfect elementary school to start Kindergarten at in the fall!”

“And I finally found my church home: the people who spoke my language, the theology that seeped into my soul,” I said, this last one perhaps more distressing than all the others.

I like to think that I’m a person who thrives in any situation; I can churn pitchers of lemonade from a basket full of lemons like it’s nobody’s business. I can go with the flow and take whatever life throws at me because I am a free-flowing, easy-going soul of a human being. But apparently, I’ve only got peaceful, easy feelings when life’s going the way I want it to go, when I get to control the outcome and the direction of my perfectly-curated life.

When everything felt out of control, the best response I could choose was to take courage. Because sometimes courage means being your most real and authentic self, even if the tears fall, even when the unknown feels bigger than the known.

And I don’t think I’m the only person who sometimes feels this way.

"God was still powerful enough to silence the wind and calm the waves."

I can’t help but think of the time that Jesus calmed the storm, a story that’s found in all three of the synoptic gospels. For years, I imagined that story as literally as possible, and for good reason: a storm so big and furious that waves crash over the side, nearly swamping and drowning and killing the men on board, would warrant anyone good reason to be scared. Sometimes, when I taught the story to middle school and high school students, I’d pull out all the stops – throwing Dixie cups of water out over the crowd, turning every fan I could find onto full blast, even in the dead of winter.

I was not without theatrics, especially if it meant I could better prove a stormy point.

Because the point of the story was that even though the disciples were scared – scared that they would die if they could not get the sleeping Master’s attention – God was still powerful enough to silence the wind and calm the waves.

And I don’t think it’s any different for you and me.

"...we remember the storms that threaten to overwhelm our lives as well..."

When we sit with the story of the wind and the waves, we remember the storms that threaten to overwhelm our lives as well – the storms that find us begging Jesus to just do something about the wind and the waves. For these are not the kind of storms that pelt us with actual, certifiable raindrops from the sky, but with a metaphorical kind of downpour, a thrashing that makes us wonder if we’ll even live to see the rainbow afterwards.

These are Our Storms: Sudden Change, Divorce, and Illness

These are the storms that come when you find out you have no choice but to move 800 miles south, and the storms that inevitably arrive when your best friends calls to tell you that she’s getting a divorce. But you had the perfect marriage, you find yourself saying to her, wondering how you couldn’t have seen the obvious writing on the wall.

These are the storms of cancer diagnoses, when your father is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and you want to stay optimistic, but how in the world are you supposed to hold onto hope? These are the storms of death and dying, of hospice care and end-of-life decisions. These are the storms you never thought you’d have to weather, but here you are, here you go. These are the storms that make you wish you could just be a little girl again, because maybe you’d be shielded from the pain and from the hurt.

Unemployment and Depression

These are the storms of unemployment, when you don’t know how you’re going to afford the next bag of groceries, let alone the next month’s rent. These are the storms of depression, when the brutality of not having a job and living off the assistance of others makes you cry out like the men in the boat. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” The drowning looks so obvious when your cupboards are bare, when your kids are wearing the same worn clothes from two years before.

Racial Discrimination

And these are the storms of racial discrimination, when although every single person has been created in the image of God, not every person, and especially not our black and brown brothers and sisters, are treated with the equality they deserve. This is not just a storm of the past, but also a real and present everyday storm of those who are being marginalized and the oppressed today.

For these are the storms that make us cry out with the psalmist when he said, How long, how long, how long, O Lord?

And these are the storms that require ultimate courage, for the only way to get through these storms is to go straight through their middle.

"This peace is always with us."

Take yourself back to the place on the boat, with the disciples. In the height of the storm, when they thought all hope was lost and asked the great teacher if he even caredthat they drowned, he stood up and said three words:

“Quiet! Be still!”

The winds died down and the rain stopped thrashing. Peace and calm were again in that place, but here’s the catch that I think we oftentimes miss: peace was there all along, for Jesus was there all along.

If God is peace, which God is, then peace will be the enduring result, for this peace is always present. This peace is always with us.

"But it takes courage to trust that God is with us in the storm."

But it takes courage to trust that God is with us in the storm. It takes courage to find peace in the midst of the craziness, the heartache, and the not knowing. It takes courage to keep taking baby steps forward when we don’t know if Jesus can even hear our cries for help.

This is the kind of courage I find most compelling, for it is the kind of courage that doesn’t come with a superhero cape, but sometimes comes with tears instead.

When I look around my living room now, I see the markings of courage. Sure, the couch, the television, and an old church pew are in place, as well as a storage bin of Legos and a stack of books on the teal green end table. But then, my husband’s bike and all of the camping gear sit stacked in one corner because we haven’t managed to move them to the garage quite yet. There aren’t any decorations on the wall, and I’m not going to tell you how many dirty socks I see strewn about the floor at this particular moment.

But when I look at this room, I can’t help but also see the strength and resilience that comes with having weathered the storm. And I also can’t help but see that peace is in this place, for we are here and we have each other.

Choose to Respond with Courage

We shed our tears and we said our good byes, but we went through the storm with courage, because it was the only way we could respond.

And now? We are here. Now, we are home.

And now? We are here. Now, we are home.

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