Have you ever noticed how many times the Bible talks about storms and waves? Over and over the Scriptures equates waves crashing around with troubles and despair. Probably no better place in Scripture is this illustrated than in the Gospel of John when the twelve disciples attempt to cross the Sea of Galilee and crash head on into a storm. Could you imagine being in the middle of a lake, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm?
“When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but He said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid’ “. John 6:16-20
This, by the way, is the only story that is told in all four gospels and though they are very similar in context Matthew adds a very intriguing aspect of the story that we will look at in a moment. Mark tells us that it was during the fourth watch of the night (between 3 to 6 AM) that Jesus came to them so the disciples were out there fighting the storm from evening to almost morning.
Just prior to this episode the disciples had been witness to Jesus feeding the 5,000. They had seen and heard Jesus give thanks to His Father for the miracle that was about to happen, when this large crowd would be fed with five loaves of bread and two small fish. They had seen the impossible become possible through the Father’s blessings.
The lesson that they should have learned was not to be overwhelmed by the problem but trust in God to accomplish the impossible. But, the miracle hadn’t quite sunk in that they were not to worry or be frightened because they were with Jesus. In the storm the disciples had another chance to put their trust in Jesus, but once again they only looked to their own weaknesses.
Though some of them were fishermen they had been rowing for hours against a wind and were quickly using up what energy they had left to keep the boat before the wind so as not to be hit broadside by a wave.
In the midst of all this they look up and saw Jesus walking on the water and drawing close to the boat. Matthew 14 tells us that they thought it was a ghost and were even more frightened than before. But, Jesus calls out to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” John 6:20b.
I love those words, “do not be afraid.” Why? Because Jesus says so and the reason He says so is because He is with us in the storm. When Joshua was about to lead the children of Israel into the promised land God told him, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you – be strong and of good courage,” Joshua 1:5, 6a.
A few verses later in the chapter God reiterates His support for Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go,” Joshua 1:9
When the waves crash over your head in the storm remember that Jesus is walking on the water. It is under His feet because He controls all that is in Heaven, on the earth and under the seas. There is nothing too big for our God to handle. We need to stop letting the problems of life, both big and small, overwhelm us because we have a God who is bigger than any problem and He cares for us.
Look at these wonderful promises of Jesus in Joshua; “I will be with you,” and “I will not fail you or forsake you.” Then He calls upon us to simply “be strong and of good courage,” as well as, “be not frightened, neither be dismayed.” And God ends up by saying to Joshua, I will be with “you wherever you go.”
God was with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee and He is with us regardless of our situation. When Jesus called out to them, John records that, “they were glad to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” John 6:21
We invite Jesus to enter into life with us and immediately the situation changes. We might not see it at once or even feel like anything has changed but it has, because Jesus is in the storm with us and will not let us down. The storms of life are not allowed to come our way to hurt us, or to weed us out, but through them we learn to trust God and to grow in faith and trust.
It’s not easy to deal with some of the pain that a number of you face daily, but God is with you and loves you and has your reward of eternal life written upon His hands. He knows what it is like to suffer alone and endure pain and ridicule and be friendless when He needs people the most.
He has you in His heart and He will not let anyone or anything take you from Him because He loves you unconditionally. Let God wrap His arms around you and remember, God isn’t out there somewhere, but He’s in your heart through the Holy Spirit.
I was going to write about Peter walking on the water, but the post is getting long so we will save Peter for another time.
Be courageous, be strong, no regrets, no retreat. Have faith!
* Please remember to pray for the Christians that are suffering under persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/