A believer, feeling alone in the struggle with illness or death often cries out to others, “Don’t you care about me?!” The question may well be addressed to God. That may make some inexperienced caregivers or ministers nervous. But God seems able to handle the outrage.
The miracle of the calming of the storm will draw a knowing nod from even the most casual of Christians. Perhaps our inner self is worried and fearful as our outer self is tossed about and abused by the storm of old age, disease, or serious injury. Perhaps we can ally ourselves with the troubled disciples:
On that day, as evening drew on,
(Jesus) said to (his disciples),
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd,
they took him with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up
and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
In this life, rarely enough it seems do we get a direct answer from the Lord. The disciples get no answer, only action:
He woke up, rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them,
“Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
When might this reading be effective in an anointing liturgy? The minister needs to know the mind and spirit of the sick person. Is she or he able to ask the question, “Why, God, don’t you care about me?” And more, is the sick person prepared to receive an answer?
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.