Yesterday’s gospel from Mark invites us into imaginative prayer: Imagine you are someone who gets on the boat with Jesus. He falls asleep on a cushion when all of a sudden, violent waves come crashing into the boat and it begins to fill up. You look over and Jesus is still sleeping. You start to panic. You don’t want to wake him, but you also don’t want to drown or die. So, you end up waking him up just to find out that he stops the storm immediately, and there was nothing to worry about the whole time. Think to yourself, “You were literally in the boat with Jesus, the Son of God, and yet you still doubted that everything would be okay—what is it exactly that you were fearing? Why was it so easy to doubt Jesus and his abilities?”
We do this all the time in little and small ways—doubt. It is one thing to have doubts, and another thing to act on those doubts to the point where Jesus’ presence in our lives—or in our boat—means nothing and we are still scared. Do we not trust that God knows our deepest desires and would not let us perish? Jesus asks us, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
In other words—what else does Jesus need to do in order for us to believe? To believe in him and to put our trust in him—our complete trust, not just when things are going great in our lives, but especially when they are not. When there are turbulent waves in our life, do we still genuinely fear that everything will fall apart or that we will perish? But even if things were to fall apart or perish, do we not trust that God was simply making space to build something even greater for us?
It is not easy to have true faith; and true faith is not the same as blind faith. True faith is an unwavering trust that God loves us and has our back, and walks with us through the good times and the bad times. With God in our lives, what is there to fear? As I imagine myself in the story, I know that I am just as guilty as the disciples who were afraid. How could Jesus possibly calm this massive storm? But he does, and all are amazed. God continues to amaze me and show up for me in ways I could have never imagined, and yet I still think I would be someone of wavering faith in a violent storm.
What else does God have to do to prove that God loves us and will protect us in turbulent storms? What will it take to truly have faith? Witnessing a miracle like the disciples? Maybe. But even then, will that be enough? What would it honestly take for me to have true, and complete faith in God? Mark’s gospel yesterday invites us all to bring that question to God in prayer today.
Alyssa Perez, a former Jesuit Volunteer in Belize City, is currently working at Loyola Marymount University in the Center for Service and Action as the assistant director of alternative breaks and advocacy. She completed the masters of nonprofit administration program at the University of San Francisco. Having been Jesuit educated for the past 12 years, she is deeply committed to Ignatian spirituality and being a leader with and for others.