When a natural storm is approaching, we think of danger. We expect destruction. We react with panic. The same goes for our internal and personal storms. They cause us anxiety, fear, and worry. And rightly so because they disturb our comfort and their consequences are often uncertain. Most of us would agree that storms are absolutely unpleasant.
Seven months ago, I was discerning a significant life decision, one that would greatly alter my future. As I struggled for clarity and direction, I felt like I was in the middle of my own personal storm: inner turmoil, confusion, and uncertainty. When I took it to prayer, asking God to calm this storm that I was barely surviving, He led me to the Gospel episode where the disciples find themselves in a storm, with Jesus asleep in the boat with them. I had heard this passage many times before and so I knew exactly how things played out: panic ensues, Jesus wakes up and calms the storm, and the disciples are exhorted for their lack of faith.
But this time around something new came to mind: What if Jesus never calmed the storm? What if the disciples didn’t panic and instead trusted that things were under control? What if it was by this very storm that Jesus intended to bring the disciples to a new part of the sea – perhaps a place they had never been to before, perhaps a place that could never be discovered without the power of the storm to drift them there? And as I wrestled with these questions, one word came to mind: adventure.
At first, it seemed out of place from my current experience, but slowly it started to make some sense. When I’m with Jesus, the storm is an adventure.
Sure, the storm may still be difficult and unpleasant, but maybe the storm is the means by which Jesus wants to take me to new places. It becomes purposeful because Jesus is with me and He always has greater plans for me.
As my eyes opened to this new insight, it brought me to understand faith in a completely new and life-changing way.
I always knew that having faith meant I should trust in Jesus when things got tough. But now I was recognizing that beyond simple trust, I was being invited go deeper by asking, “Jesus, what are you doing in me in the midst of this storm, and where do you want to take me?” I shifted from passive trust to intentional faith. I realized that it wasn’t just about holding on for dear life and trying to endure the storm; I was being invited to something more.
He wanted me to ask Him these questions so that I can participate in His great plans, plans that He would bring to fruition not in spite of the storm I was facing but because of it.
Undoubtedly, the current situation of the world feels like a perpetual storm. And in a particular way, as Catholics, it’s been difficult because this pandemic has limited our access to the very thing we turn to for refuge: the Church. We might be tempted to be like the disciples caught in the storm – anxious and fearful – focusing only on holding on for dear life until this storm passes through.
But then we would miss what Jesus is doing. What if something great has been intertwined in it all this time?
As His disciples, we are invited to more. We are invited to meet Jesus right in the middle of this storm. We are invited to trust that He is in control. We are invited to have a faith-filled presumption that He is doing something in us and through these stormy times, He is taking us to a new place. We are invited to go on an adventure with Jesus.
It’s a mystery why certain storms are part of our human experience. But we can know this: Jesus uses them to take us to new places, new heights, and new depths that perhaps we wouldn’t have gotten to without the storms. When we realize that Jesus is in the storm with us, the same feeling of being afraid of destruction can become a feeling of being excited about the adventure. It doesn’t mean that our experience will be easy, comfortable, or pain-free, but it does mean that the struggle is temporary, purposeful and directed towards something greater. With Jesus, this is guaranteed.
Jesus, what are You doing in us in the midst of this storm, and where do You want to take us? We press forward in this season because, with You, the storm is an adventure.
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