The storms we experience in the readings today are as ambiguous as any we face in our living. Are they destroying hurricanes or are they occasions when the veil is blown away to give a glimpse of God?
We have two storms, today. We hear God finally answering Job from the heart of the whirlwind—all noise and thunder and know-it-all. And we have the terrified disciples caught at sea by a squall while Jesus sleeps quietly on a cushion.
We have two awkward questions, too. We have Job the proverbial good man to whom bad things happen. Why? And we have the disciples making their heartfelt plea—‘Master, we are going under! Don’t you care?’
And isn’t that a damn good question? Don’t we want to scream it out ourselves sometimes? When we read the paper. When tragedy blows us flat. When the slow accumulation of misfortune seems set to swamp us. Don’t we want to know why? Don’t we want to know if God cares?
But we don’t get answers. We get silenced. Twice. God answers Job by overwhelming him, blustering him into silence. And Jesus silences the storm and the waves—and has a go at the disciples for getting upset.
Don’t those both feel like a raw deal? We don’t get the kind of answer we want. We want a real response but instead we find ourselves silenced by questions we can’t answer.
Yet the silence isn’t the end but the beginning. Silence holds a promise. Job rides out the storm of God’s bluster and finds a silence he fills with faith. And when the winds are silenced and the sea calmed, the disciples find their own fear falling away into a new insight.
Silence is a beginning. Silence holds a promise. I don’t know which is worse—God being the storm or God sleeping through it—but when the silence falls there can be a beginning, a beginning for each of us.