Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

When storms hit, keep your eyes on Jesus

By Lorraine V. Murray, Commentary | Published February 14, 2024

The stingray was massive. I shrank in horror as it swam by, but Jef was undaunted as he continued patching the boat. We had purchased a small, inflatable boat, advertised as sturdy, tough and unsinkable. But on its maiden voyage, the boat hit an oyster bank and sprang a leak.  

Now we were stranded in a cove in the Gulf of Mexico near a barrier island. Fortunately, the water was shallow. Unfortunately, the tide was rising. The first mate, yours truly, sounded the emergency whistle, and soon we heard voices around the bend. Our rescuers were in a large boat, which couldn’t fit into the cove.  

We managed to paddle our injured vessel over to their boat and the kind seafarers helped us on board. To their eternal credit, they didn’t make any disparaging remarks about people dumb enough to trust an inflatable boat.  

Jef and I had encountered a raging sea one night in our previous boat, which was solid and definitely non inflatable. The water was calm and gentle until the thunder started, and we were battling angry waves. While Captain Jef assured the first mate it really wasn’t that bad, she sat terrified, envisioning the worst. There’s a quote from the poet George Herbert: “He that will learn to pray, let him go to sea.” I can attest to the truth of that statement.  

Despite the mishaps, I’m grateful we had a boat, because the experience has helped me understand the seafaring stories in the Gospels. In one scene, the apostles are in their fishing boat with Jesus asleep at the back, and they encounter a huge storm.  

Even though they know Jesus is with them, they’re still terrified of capsizing when water starts pouring into the boat. They aren’t confident Jesus is aware of their predicament, so they wake him up: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” Jesus tames the storm, then asks them a question that speaks to the heart of anyone who has ever doubted. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”  

Father Daniel Considine writes that “Our Lord allows troubles to befall us in order to make us long for Him, think of Him, turn to Him, trust in Him, and call upon Him for help.” How many times have I turned to the Lord with urgency. “Jesus, I have cancer!” “Jesus, my husband died!” “I don’t know whether I can go on!” Each time, he has restored calm to my soul, while I’ve chided myself about my wavering faith.  

In another dramatic scene, Jesus is praying alone in the hills in the evening. The apostles, however, are boating and encounter a fierce storm. When they see Jesus walking on the water toward them, they’re terrified until he reassures them: “Take heart, it is I, have no fear.” Peter starts walking on the water toward Jesus, but his faith wavers and he sinks.  

Father Considine writes that “St. Peter walks happily towards Jesus as long as he looks at Him alone, but the moment he looks at the waves and himself, he sinks.” The lesson for us is this: “Look at Jesus, not at self or danger.” Of course Jesus rescues Peter, but also chides him: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  

Faith is a delicate creature that sometimes eludes us. Can we trust that Jesus will banish the storms in our lives? Can we rely on him to save us from drowning in worries? Can we cast our nets into unknown places when Jesus directs us?  

The sea promises many lessons about faith, but so does everyday life. We needn’t climb into a boat to encounter worrisome wind and rain that threatens our security. Jesus is always resting in our hearts, waiting for us to call on him. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and remember his lovely words: “Take heart, it is I, have no fear.”  

Artwork is an oil painting titled “Dawn Treader” by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef ( Her email address is