Do you worry much?
In the First Book of Kings, the prophet Elijah takes shelter on Mt. Horeb, having fled the wrath of Jezebel whose prophets have been slaughtered on his orders. Elijah has prepared himself to die in the wilderness, but God knows that Elijah’s work is not yet done, in spite of Elijah’s worry that he has lost control. So God appears to Elijah – not in the strong wind or the earthquake or the fire that Elijah experiences on the mountain, but in a tiny whispering sound. God is present to Elijah in the calmest, most insignificant event of day – not in greatest power one might imagine, but in the greatest subtlety. And only God’s calming presence can move Elijah off his mountain of worry and put Elijah back on track to do his appointed work as prophet.
In Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples likewise struggle with worry when their boat is tossed about by the waves. They are hardly calmed when Jesus comes toward them walking on the sea – to the contrary, they cry out in fear. Only Peter is open to trusting in Jesus, walking on the water toward Jesus, but that trust sinks into the depths as Peter experiences how strong the wind is: Lord, save me! he cries, ruled by the same fear that dominates his fellow disciples. Only when Jesus catches Peter and gets into the boat does the wind calm down; Jesus is their calm in the midst of the storm, and homage replaces their worry as they recognize that Truly, Jesus is the Son of God.
In the midst of storms and turmoil, we worry. Even Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, repeatedly expresses his worry – his great sorry and constant anguish – about the future of the Jews, his own people, who are not open to knowing Christ. But ultimately, Paul trusts in God’s mercy; Paul’s worry does not diminish his faith in the Lord. The Lord himself will give his benefits, Psalm 85 reminds us – real peace, true calm, comes only from God’s life-giving justice, justice that erases our worry as it deepens our faith in God’s truth.
We worry. We worry often, especially when we want to be in control. But as Elijah and Peter and Paul all learn, the solution is simply to let go – of our desire for control, of our worry, of our fear, trusting in God’s ways so that we can move along the path of faith, with only love to guide our way.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle