Rushing to the car with a cart full of groceries, I hit a pothole. Not a big one, just big and deep enough to grab a front wheel. The cart flipped forward, and I flipped with it. It all happened in slo-mo: the bar hitting my shin, me recoiling in pain, the coffee flying, me pulling back, the sideways lurch, the catapult, the unforgiving pavement. I lay there stunned, watching people walk into the store, eyes on their cell phones, oblivious or determined not to see.
Life hits like that sometimes. The same year we moved across the country and couldn’t sell our house, my husband was laid off, we lost our savings, my grandpa died, my mom got cancer. “It never rains but it pours,” they say, but that doesn’t capture the pummeling we feel when bad things won’t stop coming and there’s no help in sight.
I think of the disciples in the storm in Matthew 8. Wave after wave came across the bow of their fishing boat until it seemed they would sink, and Jesus slept.
They woke him up; I imagine them shaking him, wild-eyed, begging for help. He did, of course, but it’s what he says first that grabs my attention: “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?”
“Why are you afraid,” indeed? Why am I afraid, when storms come and rock my boat, when Jesus is beside me? Even if he seems to sleep: why am I afraid? Do I not have faith that he will help? Jesus calmed the sea, but he is also master of bringing good from bad, of turning weakness into strength. I wonder if some greater good might have come about, had they had faith to wait.
“Stay in the boat in which he has placed you, and let the storm come. Long live Jesus!; you will not perish. He may sleep, but at the opportune time he will awake to restore your calm.” (Saint Pio of Pietrelcina)