Beliefnet

"Don't you care about us?" That's not the voice of a few petulant children, but of Jesus's disciples in a famous story from the New Testament called the "storm at sea." After a long day of preaching, Jesus and his friends climb into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. He falls asleep (not surprising given the long hours, the poor conditions in which he lived and the overwhelming demands on his time), when a storm suddenly whips up. (Even today on the Sea of Galilee squalls appear as if from nowhere.)

The little boat starts taking on water and the disciples, a fearful bunch in normal circumstances, are terrified. They wake up Jesus and shout, "Don't you care that we are perishing?" Jesus quickly stills the storm and quiets them down as well. "Why are you afraid?" he asks. "Have you no faith?"

You don't have to be Christian to find yourself in this utterly human story. Which of us, in the midst of life's storms (unemployment, financial worries, stress at work, serious illness, the death of a loved one) hasn't cried out, "Don't you care about me, God?" Who hasn't wondered if God is really listening? Why does it seem that God is asleep?

When it's hard to find God in our current troubles, sometimes all it takes to calm our storms is remembering where God has already been. It's always easier to see God in retrospect. Looking back, you can see where God was with you during frightening times—perhaps in the guise of a wise mentor, a supportive family member or a nurturing faith community. This is not to downplay the terror of life's frequent storms, but rather to say that while it may seem that God is asleep, God is in fact right there with you.

Ten years ago I was diagnosed with a small tumor under my jaw. I was terrified. When it grew hard to find God in all this, I grew frustrated. And then angry. Desperate, I spoke with an older Jesuit. Wisely, he suggested looking for signs of God's presence in my past. That was easier. Okay, I thought, I trust that you're with me now, God. Even though I can't feel you, I trust that I'll be able see your presence soon. When the storm passed (and the tumor turned out to be benign) I could see where God had been—in the support of friends, and in the care of the doctors, and in the advice of that kindly Jesuit. God was paying attention after all.

When God seems asleep in our lives, or not present, or when we want to say "Don't you care?" sometimes it's best to look backwards and see where God has already been. Looking for God in the past helps you trust that God is with you in the present, and will be in your future, too. No matter how stormy life gets.

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