Stormy Days

Stormy Days

With all the recent talk about the major storm, I figured that a picture of a great storm might be appropriate. And, as soon as I saw this picture, honestly, I knew I wanted to feature this image.

The art depicts the storm on Galilee, which is described in the gospel passage of Matthew 8:23-27. The painting is by Rembrandt, who was a master of using light as a way to evoke emotion. The way that the light hits the storm is just brilliant, since, instead of highlighting Christ, as most religious artists tend to do, it really brings out the drama of this whole situation. The sea slams into the disciples, who are doing their very best to keep the wooden vessel with primitive rigging afloat. Every disciple has a different expression. Some are determined, willing to do whatever they can to get out of the storm. Others are clustered in fear around Jesus. One disciple is even feeding the fishes!

And there is Jesus, just waking up, looking calm and vaguely confused why this whole fiasco is going on in the first place.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1633. Whereabouts unknown since the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990.

Jesus’ reaction, honestly, is such a strange one that reminds me that He is really God. While the disciples are shouting to Him, telling Him that they are about to perish, he has kind of a “so what” attitude. It’s almost as if He doesn’t really care about the existence of storms and other natural disasters. He seems more concerned about the state of people’s souls and how they react to the disasters that confront Him.

To us, that is strange. How could God react such a way to these disasters that can totally destroy us? If He were all-powerful, then why couldn’t He stop the storm completely? Or, better yet, make it so that no storms rage around us ever?

And, in this particular storm, He does calm the storm. But, for many other storms? There seems to be no relief.

Yet, we need to remember that God is an eternal being and, being eternal, He has different priorities than us, who are subject to the whims of time.

To us when we are in such a storm, we feel as if we are being beaten up by nature. Again. And that gets old after a while.

To Him? Perhaps this storm is just an occasion to prove virtue, such as virtues of bravery, courage, and faith for those who are in the storm. And, for those of us who are out of the storm? It gives us the opportunity to be kind, generous, and to act out love to our neighbor in a very real way.

Let’s not squander this opportunity!

Dear Jesus,

When we encounter storms, please listen to our pleas and keep us safe in Your hands. When we see others facing their own storms, help our hearts be open to those suffering and keep us generous to their needs. And, Lord, always stay with us, no matter what.

Amen.

 

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