In the Eye of a Storm
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)
I am writing this reflection while we are in complete lockdown in Metro Manila as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is our second month on lockdown and the devastation and fall-out from both the disease and the efforts to stem the disease have been unprecedented. Like many countries, the hospitals have been overwhelmed. Many healthcare workers and citizens have died. Many more have been infected. The efforts to “flatten the curve” do not seem to be working. The economy shrank for the first time in 22 years. Millions of workers have been displaced. People are angry, hungry, and desperate. All this is taking place in the sweltering heat of the summer where temperatures have risen to up to 42 degrees celsius.
This is not the first storm that our country or the world has seen, but it is the first of its kind for our generation. Many were expecting the “big one”; the earthquake that would devastate the city. Or perhaps a nuclear war or even a zombie apocalypse! But this COVID-19 pandemic seems to be the perfect storm. It has effectively shut down the world. Airplanes are not flying. Cars are parked in garages gathering dust. People cannot leave their homes or when they do, they are deathly afraid because we are battling with an invisible and unseen enemy whose nature is not yet fully known. The race for a vaccine has begun. This is not the first pandemic and it will not be the last. We will go through more storms in our lives, as individuals and as communities.
Ironically, the biggest storms often come with no warning. All seems calm. Perhaps that is where the expression, “the calm before the storm” originates. From the storms of my own life and watching the storms in the lives of others, I have learned a few lessons on how to face stormy weather:
- When a storm comes into your life, you need to take shelter and stay still until the storm passes. And no matter how violent, all storms pass. The more violent a storm, the more quickly it passes.
- If you need to go out into a storm, be prepared for the onslaught. Put on your raingear, bring an umbrella, and brace yourself for danger. In our world today, we put on our mask, face shields, glasses, and gloves.
- Always be prepared for a storm. It’s not a question of “if”; it’s a question of “when”. Fortify the areas in your life (financial, emotional, spiritual) that you will need to strengthen to weather a storm.
- Know that God is the God of all storms. He may allow a storm to happen, but He will not leave you alone without provision.
- Every storm has its casualties. Fellowship is a necessity. You may often be required to provide a safe house for victims of a storm. In the same manner, you should know which safe houses to go to when you become a victim of a storm.
- A storm brings scarcity. You will need storehouses of strength, goodwill, faith, and grace to overcome.
There will be many storms in our lives. To quote from Paolo Coelho, “A storm brings destruction, but it also waters the fields; and with the rain, falls the wisdom of the heavens.”
As I write this article, there is silence in the world. The streets are empty. People are in hiding. I know, however, that when this is all over, the air will be cleansed; people will once again leave their homes to resume their normal activities; the debris will be cleaned and collected; most importantly, the sun will shine brightly again.