Dear Friends at Immaculate Conception and Saint Frances Cabrini Parish:
Praised be Jesus Christ! I recently came across a quotation that rang true to me the instant that I saw it: “The problem with storms is that they pass.” That quotation can have meaning on a variety of levels of course. There are the literal storms of nature, and they do indeed pass, although I think most of us who have lived through the fear of severe weather would think that their passing is a good thing, and not so much a problem.
There are the metaphorical storms that strike us on the personal level: storms of family discord, of health issues, of doubts in our faith, of job losses, of recurring sins, etc, etc. All of us know those storms well, and some of them do not pass for a long time it seems. And when they do, the usual human reaction is to be happy rather than sad that they are over.
There are also the metaphorical storms that engulf us on the cultural or global level as well: broad-based economic turmoil (China and the gyrating markets as a prime example recently), or discontent in the electorate, or terrorists on trains in France, or the battle over the definition of marriage, or (more to the point of this coming Friday, the 11th of September) devastating attacks on our national security.
We always seem to keep looking for the end of the storm, no matter what the level it comes on. It would seem that God is on our side with this tendency because if one looks at the Scriptures, there are countless examples in the Old and New Testaments of God (sometimes literally) calming the storms. God wins battles for the Israelites, He defeats opponents, He drives out demons, He ends illnesses, He feeds discontented and hungry crowds, and He silences the wind. So it would seem that God, too, acts among us in definitive and powerful ways because He knows that on our own, we cannot make storms pass, and He shares our desire to end them.
So then why on earth would anyone suggest, going back to that quotation, that the problem with storms is that they pass and come to an end? The thing about storms, be it the literal, personal, or cultural kind, is that they keep us honest and they keep us humble. And I find that we are the most aware of our need for God and our faith not when all is calm, but rather when we are riding out the storms. God permits storms so that we can learn to trust Him and so that He can be glorified as He brings about their end.
In fact, it is true that the best storms are the ones that convince us of our complete inability to get out of them on our own without calling out for help. Because when those storms finally come to an end, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we did not end it, but rather God did. Storms keep us on our knees, and they keep us looking up, and they show us our own limitations. Indeed, therefore, the problem with storms is not that there are storms, since God has shown himself in His death and resurrection to have conquered all storms. No, the problem really is that they pass. Because as soon as it seems calm and we find ourselves standing upright again, the temptation to let go of God’s mighty hand is all too strong.
These storms in the world we are hearing about right now are all opportunities. They are opportunities to hear clearly God’s continual and insistent calls for a change of our hearts. There is something drastically wrong with a world where people commit suicide over stock market crashes, where reporters are killed on live television, where a man can get publicly extolled as a hero for deciding he is a woman. But, of course, there has ALWAYS been something drastically wrong with the world. And that thing is sin. And the only remedy is God. And God will continue to allow storms until we no longer need the storms; until the entire world decides wholly and completely that we need only one thing: Him.