Storms: Palm 124

Here is the back story. I am kind of a weather buff. I think in some other life I was meant to be a meteorologist but in this life I settle for checking the weather obsessively. My wife likes to make fun of the fact that I constantly check the weather but on more than one occasion it has come in handy. As irony would have it, just now she is asking me for the weather report.

This past Friday, I started off my day much like I usually do. Checking the weather and reporting to my wife what the temperature will be for the day and if there is a chance of rain. Friday was wonderful, but there was a chance for storms on Saturday.

“The waters would have engulfed us, the torrent overwhelmed us”

If we only could tell the future. As Saturday progressed and the storm clouds moved in, there was no sign that this storm would be any different from the afternoon storms which frequent North Carolina in the spring. But, this storm was different.

Throughout the afternoon the wind picked up and the rain came down. I remember sitting out on my front porch with my oldest son explaining how we could tell which way the storm was coming from by watching the clouds and approximate the distance by counting the time between the lightning and thunder. What was a bonding experience between my son and I was a journey through hell for others. This particular storm spawned multiple tornadoes which left many dead and a large amount of destruction.

On my way to a meeting the day after the storms hit I drove through the swath of one of these tornadoes. I was struck by a feeling of horrific wonder; specifically that such a destructive force could level one area and leave everything else untouched. What makes one location different from another? Why did some have to suffer so much while life didn’t skip a beat for many others?

“Jesus Christ has taken the lead on the way of the cross. He has suffered first. He does not drive us toward suffering but shares it with us, wanting us to have life and to have it in abundance.”– Pope John Paul II.

These questions remind me of a quote from St. Augustine: “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” Now, entering Holy Week, suffering takes on a new meaning. Suffering = redemption. In times of the greatest suffering we have the potential to show the greatest love and to be empty enough that Christ can completely reign. With our own suffering comes an increased capacity to empathize with others and at the same time invest in those who we might not otherwise care for. There is a communal nature to suffering and there is a communal nature to love.

Our future is much like the weather. We can make predictions on what will happen, but ultimately we find many aspects of our future are out of our control. But, we can take hope in suffering. This hope is that God Himself allowed His Son to suffer and to die redeeming us all in the process. What could be viewed as hopeless suffering and sacrifice, can, when united with Christ, take on a wholly redemptive nature. “And Christ, through His own salvific suffering, is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of His Spirit of truth, His consoling spirit.”
~Salvifici Doloris- On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering — Pope John Paul II-1984

…We escaped with our lives like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare was broken and we escaped. Our help is the name of the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

“The way Jesus shows you is not easy. Rather, it is like a path winding up a mountain. Do not lose heart! The steeper the road, the faster it rises towards ever wider horizons.”– Pope John Paul II

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