In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen!
A bungee jumper standing out on the platform about to jump, stares out into the pit, with fear and adrenaline going through them knowing that with one more step they will free fall all the way down. Yet, trusting that the harness and tether will hold and pull them back up, they jump! A child riding a 2-wheeler bike for the first time is unsure as their legs shake and they wobble.
Yet, they trust their parent knowing that mom or dad will not let go of the seat until they’re ready. A student is anxious to take that final exam which could make or break their chosen career path. Yet, they trust the knowledge that they gained through all their hard work and dedication.
My dear brothers and sisters, in different points of our life, we will face anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, and many other challenges that can make us fearful. It may be in the short term, such as anxious about a test; it may be in the long term, such as uncertainty about future. When we face challenges with fear, we may feel frozen and stuck just as many of us felt this way perhaps in 2020 – stuck in time, frozen out of fear to what the future brought. Still many of us perhaps feel this way everyday regardless of the year, as we suffer through anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, and many other serious challenges of life. As 2020 changed and became 2021, people exclaimed how happy they were that 2020 ended and that the New Year would be better. In the same way, through social media and other platforms during the Presidential inauguration this past week, people made comments saying now that the government administration has changed, everything will be better and still others shared stories of fear with the new government. However, my dear brothers and sisters, neither the change in government, the changing of the calendar year, the changing of our environment or jobs, etc. none of these guarantee a better life, peace, comfort, security, or healing.
Rather, true healing, true peace and security comes through trust alone. We must ask ourselves however, what or in whom do we trust and what does that trust mean? Trust in people, in an arbitrary society, our perceptions and senses, our education? Perhaps! We can trust our loved ones, our teachers, friends, parents, leaders, etc. but that trust is not what brings peace because all these things and people are fallible, are changeable, are temporary and ultimately can fail us. Not people, not friends and family, not Der Hayr, not teachers, not leaders, not political parties or ideologies, not horoscopes, not charms and amulets, and not even our own knowledge and senses. Rather, my dears true healing, true peace and security comes from truly trusting God along!
In today’s Gospel as Christ walks on the waters through the storm, the disciples are fearful because their own knowledge, their own understanding and their perception was failing them. Not even them being together secure in the boat kept their fear at rest. Only when Christ calls out saying, “It is I; do not be afraid” (v.20) we see the disciples immediately directing their trust towards Christ Jesus, and we read, “then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” (v.21). My dears, we must trust in God alone to bring us true comfort, true healing, true peace because God alone is unfailing and unchangeable. As we read in Isaiah 61, we must rejoice in the Lord, our soul must exult God, for “he has clothed [us]” meaning God has given us what we need for protection from all of life’s pains, fears, anxieties, uncertainties and challenges. But we will only find this peace when we trust in God fully, when we love God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with our hearts, mind and soul.
How? Through prayer, repentance, fasting, and confession. Through reading the Holy Scriptures and learning His commandments. Through coming to Church, coming into communion with Him and being changed completely. For this reason we read from the prophet Joel, “‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil.” (Joel 2:12-13 RSV)
My dears, to fully trust God, to be in communion with Him, does not mean to never see failure or fear in this life. Rather, it means to know He is with us in our fear, through our challenges and in the storms we face in life. To trust and love God means to know that He will not abandon us and will never fail us.
Therefore, let us not place our trust in the passing lies of this world but in the truth of God revealed to us through Christ Jesus. Let us not look to a changing calendar year to bring peace but a change in our hearts. Let us not look to a new government but to God’s renewing power in us. When we are renewed in our trust and love in God, through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we will never lose sight of Him even amidst the storms of our life. We will not be fearful, as we here Christ words, “it is I…” now and forever more, Amen!