Often, we hear that we should be watchful about how we communicate the Christian faith, and make sure we don’t talk about it as a life that is all sunshine and rainbows. If anything, it can be a calling into a much tougher lifestyle. But life can still feel like it sucks – whether we have faith or not. Recently I was listening to a song with the lyrics, “life can be hard, life can be so hard”. The song was written for the Grammy music awards, and its title was the USA’s national suicide prevention lifeline phone number. For the two hours after it was first performed live the phone lines were three times busier than normal (according to a report by the Huffington Post). The lyrics were an honest reflection of so many peoples struggle and seemingly resonated with and moved them to talk to someone.
Often when talking about how life can be hard, we rush to a theology of God as rescuer and saviour. We use the stories like Jesus calming the storm to show how Jesus has the authority and power to bring peace in the midst of chaos. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that in the storms of our life Jesus can bring peace and calm, but the despair we can feel during the storm is so real it can feel like there is no hope, and it was the same for the disciples. We hear the disciples cry out, ‘we’re going to drown’. So why did they go through this? It is important to remember that Jesus is more than God as a rescuer but also God who is alongside us in suffering.
I’ve by no means explored this as a theological exegesis of the text, only been reflecting on it recently, and what I see is that Jesus wants to move the disciples on from point A to point B, from one side of the lake to the other – but it’s not an easy journey. In his book How to Survive a Shipwreck, Jonathan Martin says ‘Christianity is the religion of going through not around’. That idea of Christianity being a religion that takes you through storms feels very real. Jonah needs to go through a storm (and the rest) to move him into a position to obey God. The language of dying to your old life and being raised to life in Christ is dramatic language. Sometimes there are things in our lives that we need to confront head on and not just skirt around.
This post started with reflecting on how hard life can be, and the point it can drive people to. BUT there is hope. Some journeys can be so hard for people, but there is hope that things can change, and that there is strength on the other side. I’m not for one moment suggesting that God ordains these storms in our life, yet they still happen. What I do believe is God will do whatever he can to bring good out of a really terrible situation. So, if these storms are going to happen, then we need to look at how we cope in these situations. This has been the very purpose of so many areas of our work, where we are aiming to bring hope into hopeless situations. Helping to build the resilience people need to stay afloat.