by Ashley Vinti

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”
And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other
boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the
boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And
he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased,
and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no
faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that  even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4: 35-41

It’s April, 2020, and we are in the height of the global Coronavirus pandemic. 

To be honest, I am not sure what is going on with my health. Since April 7th, I have been experiencing chest discomfort ranging from mild to severe. When my chest is not in immediate pain, it feels rigid and tight, and I have to take deep breaths. I have been fortunate enough to receive medical care from two urgent care centers and an offsite facility of my primary physician. My vitals read normal; I had two EKGS, an echocardiogram, a chest x-ray, and I tested negative for the virus on April 11th. I have been told I may have a muscle strain or Costochondritis, but nothing conclusive. 

The uncertainty surrounding the cause of this discomfort and the lingering intensity of the pain has driven me into anxiety that at times borderlines on panic, pressing me into a place to cry out to my father wary of the worry and fear weighing on my heart in the face of a savior who commands me to have courage. With each surge of pain, I couldn’t help but feel my savior looking directly into my heart and asking me the same question he asked his disciples as the waters came crashing in: “Why are you so afraid?”

I have experienced tragedy before. My ex-husband, whom I loved very much, left me for another woman, but this feels very different. There is something terrifyingly sobering about this experience and the physical discomfort that has graciously allowed me to grapple with questions I never have before. Why am I so fearful when I am promised eternal security? What am I valuing more than the promises of Christ that I believe to be true,  and where is my faith?

The answer is easy: my life. I was counting my life and health more than the treasure of Christ’s presence.

In praying for deliverance and mercy and not experiencing immediate relief, I am forced to look at who is with me instead of where I am. I am hoping in the peace that is promised to God’s children through Christ Jesus. 

Of course, I want comfort. Of course, I want relief. I am used to working out 6 days a week, and I am approaching well over two weeks of not moving. The anxiety worsens when the pain increases, and I want deliverance, but above all, I want the peace that surpasses understanding. To truly savor His presence, we sometimes need to be in the midst of the storm with the immediate threat looming over our heads to see that our eternity is secure and the victory is won. 

The Christian is called to courageous acts of love despite danger. It is my prayer for all of us that in this danger, and the inevitable danger to come, we shine the light of Christ brightly no matter where we are or what we feel. The range of loss this pandemic caused is incredibly vast and diverse. Some have lost their comfort, some their normalcy, some their jobs, and some their lives. The only steadfast security that we have is the unshakeable authority, holiness, righteousness, and goodness of God-graciously given to us through Christ Jesus. It is my prayer that the treasure of that security embolden God’s people to live fearlessly in these times. It is my prayer that our faith and love for who is with us in the storm overcomes and pushes out the fear of not being delivered from it or having the winds and waves cease. 

Brothers and sisters, it is our job to search our souls in suffering to see what God is calling us to purify about our own hearts, and it is our charge to help alleviate the suffering of those around us despite the cost. I earnestly pray that God shows us how to love courageously no matter where we are by fixing our eyes and our hearts on the grace and power of who is with us.