“Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.” In today’s Gospel, we have all been gifted with one of the more famous and breathtaking moments in all of the Scriptures, at least in the top ten! Try to imagine the scene where hurricane-force gale winds are blowing mercilessly against a tiny boat. At the same time, the crashing sounds of the thunder in the distance are only rivaled by the crashing of the waves. The drama unfolds in three distinct phases: first, there’s a horrible storm that scares everyone on board; second, they see Jesus walking over the storm thinking He is a ghost; third, Jesus utters the most iconic words of comfort born from faith, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” and then calms everyone’s storm. This process is the quintessential outline and summary of our spiritual lives! We face our storms of doubt, we call upon Jesus, He makes His loving presence known and empowers us to believe, then we doubt again, and the cycle starts all over again, but each time it does, we are closer and closer to Jesus who never leaves our ship of life.
This episode raises the age-long question that has faced every Christian since Jesus first walked the earth: why do we doubt, and how do we deal with this very human and expected experience? First, doubt is a natural process of every intellectual and moral process. It is almost necessary because it is a way of strengthening our ideals and beliefs, but it must never overtake the very treasure we are trying to discover. We must realize that doubt is part of the natural growing pains of faith, and having said that; it is also a mystery. No one human being could ever totally grasp the fullness of who God is, so understandably there will be gaps due to our limitations. “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” Gaps do not make for abandoning Jesus or why we are here on this planet. Perhaps the greatest spiritual gift we need when confronted with doubt is humility. Humility reminds us that faith is a powerful gift that must be opened slowly and without pretense. This is precisely how we run to Jesus through every storm we encounter on the water and everywhere else.
“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Brene Brown