Which outlook, God’s or Man’s?
For the ancient world the sea was a place of mystery, danger and chaos. If you think about it, it’s only been in recent decades that trips and time at sea have been associated with pleasure and leisure. It was not too long ago that our great grandparents made that dangerous voyage across the ocean to come to a land of new opportunity, a journey which was quite perilous, and nothing was quite so frightening as a storm at sea.
In the Gospel we hear proclaimed this weekend, Jesus and his disciples are a part of a small fleet at sea, in the midst of a storm, a truly horrifying experience…and Jesus is asleep. So often in our own lives we are caught up in the panic and horror of a particular moment and wonder where God is, and why he isn’t doing something (specifically what we want him to do) about the current situation whether it’s a personal struggle, family situation, illness or addiction; or a broader, global situation such as pandemic, hunger, genocide, political unrest or famine. These moments are where faith is tested. Faith is both a gift of God and a human act by which we freely assent to whole truth that God has revealed. In moments of trial we are called to believe what God reveals to us about himself, what he reveals to us about ourselves and what we reveal to us about the world. Namely, that he is the supreme creator and ruler of the world who cares for his children as a perfect Father; that we are his beloved children who stand in the anointing of his promise; and that all which does not serve for His Glory and therefore, the Glory of his heirs will eventually be brought to nothing. This is in contrast to what the world tells us about God, us, and the world itself.
Late 19th century German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche sums up the theology of the world perfectly:
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
So, for Nietzsche and most of the world, God is a concept that humanity is not worthy of and we as a society have destroyed the God-Concept, so the closest we can come to it is to make ourselves the gods of our own destiny by freeing ourselves from the shackles of suppressive religion and discover how to weather the storms of our own life, because God certainly isn’t going to do it for us. We all face this temptation in the midst of the storm, to curse the God whom we have deemed dead or asleep rather than trust in what God has revealed to us.
So here we are, in the midst of a storm in our own life as we chart unknown waters. The question I would pose is which outlook, God’s or Man’s (Nietzsche’s), is going to bring us happiness and fulfillment in this life? I can testify to this fact: I am utterly lousy at weathering the storms of life by myself. But when I trust in God, in his promise, that he is who he says he is and I am who he says I am, that I have peace and there has never been a storm in my life that he has not calmed and conversely there is no storm in my life that I have been able to calm on my own. My will can help me to weather the storm–at least for a time. But only the power of God completely calms the storm and eventually causes it to go away.