The Gospel of Mark is quickly becoming my favorite because he packs so much into a few short words. His stories are spare and to-the-point … but every so often he slips in a phrase or detail that makes you go, “Hmmm…”
Sunday’s Gospel reading is like that. In the story of the apostles on the sea with the Lord, being tossed about until He speaks a word that make “the wind and waves obey Him,” it would be easy to miss one little phrase Mark slips in there as he tells the story (Mark 4:35-41):
“Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.”
What boats? You may well ask. As the squalls kicked up, all but capsizing the fishing boat in which the Lord and His disciples were resting … we must assume that the surrounding boats were in similar straits. Being thrashed and buffeted by the prevailing wind and rain. Their occupants similarly terrified. Perhaps even more so — they didn’t have Jesus in their boat!
There are some situations in life that, honestly, I don’t know how you endure without faith. The death of a loved one. A shattering disappointment. A brush with your own mortality. Being a Christian doesn’t anesthetize us to the real pain these situations inflict upon the heart. But it does — or at least should — make a difference in how we process that suffering.
It is blatantly dishonest to deny the existence of the pain. Even the Lord Himself cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The pain is real, and it can be life-altering.
However, for the Christian, our grief need not define us, or cause us to founder and go under. Rather, faith lends a vital perspective — that Someone bigger and wiser than us holds those mysteries in His hands, and will entrust them to us when the time is right.
Photo Credit: Rembrandt by Valtora