It had been an eventful day. Crowds showed up from everywhere to hear the Master, and no one wanted to go home. When the disciples asked him to send them away to find something to eat, He simply told them to feed the crowd. “What!?” they asked him. “How are we going to feed them with just a few fish and loaves of bread?” Taking the meager amount of food in his hand, Jesus worked a miracle, expanding the loaves and fishes so that each person had their fill and there was food left over.
You would think that after seeing such a miracle, the disciples would be so filled with faith that they could overcome any obstacle, surmount any impediment in their paths. But this was not so. They had seen miracles before and still had not learned that Jesus was a miracle-working God, that there was no hurdle he could not surpass. Their next test was just hours away.
As the sun started its course downward, Jesus sent the disciples away to the other side of the sea. They would mount their small boat and head across while he would send the people home and spend some much-needed prayer time himself. Familiar with the sea and with boats, this wasn’t a very big challenge for most of them. In fact, for the fishermen it would likely be pleasant being back on the water.
Night was falling, and as it did a storm rolled in across the water, threatening the small vessel. The wind blew, causing large waves that rocked the boat back and forth, filling the bottom of the boat with water. They were trapped in the storm with nothing but their own brawn to help themselves, and that was doing very little.
I have been in such storms, not on the water but in life. I suppose you have been, as well. We are just going our own way, enjoying the blessings if God in our lives, when the storms hit. The storms could consist of any number of scenarios—health problems, financial issues, you name it—but when they hit, we find it hard to concentrate on our faith.
When I’m seemingly “lost” in a storm, I like to go back to the Psalms. King David was a man of remembrance. He regularly went back to God’s blessings in the past, reminding himself that no matter how bad the problem, God was always faithful. Unfortunately, storms are loud and arrogant. The storm demands all of our attention and most often gets it.
Jesus knew the disciples were afraid and were in danger, and He went to them, walking on the water. In their state of fear and panic the sight of Jesus only further terrified them. It made no sense to their common-sense minds how a man could be walking on water in the midst of a storm. In fact, it makes no sense to our minds either! Yet, there He was, approaching them to save them.
The answers God brings to our lives in the midst of our storms are sometimes very common sense and very understandable. However, God also approaches our troubles and our problems from a route that we would never consider, like walking on the water toward us. Sometimes God approaches us through the miraculous, and the answer is as extreme as the problem.
When Jesus identified himself to the disciples, not wanting to cause them any more fear, Peter needed to confirm that it truly was Jesus and asked to come out of the boat. I don’t know about you, but I think I would have been just fine there in the boat once Jesus appeared. Nevertheless, Peter began walking to Jesus, on the water, until he looked back at the storm and began to sink. Taking his eyes off of Jesus caused Peter’s faith to waver, and as he was sinking in the waves he called out to Jesus to save him, which, of course, Jesus did. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). They both got into the boat, and the winds died down.
As they worshiped Jesus, the disciples recognized anew that Jesus was truly the Son of God. But they already knew that before the storm. They had already experienced and seen his miracle-working power. But this was personal. This was their own lives on the line, and they needed personal reassurance that Jesus was able to save.
What storm are you experiencing in your life? Whatever the winds and waves washing over us, sometimes God calms the storms of our lives, and sometimes He is with us in the storms, bringing us through. But always God is there to calm and to protect, to assure and to lead.
One of my favorite contemporary Christian songs says,
“I will praise you in this storm,
and I will lift my hands,
for you are who you are
no matter where I am.
And every tear I cry,
you hold in your hand.
You never left my side,
and though my heart is torn,
I will praise you in this storm.”
Praise You in this Storm Bernie Herms and Mark Hall. Recorded by Casting Crowns.
Whatever the storm you are facing, God is faithful. Remember the miracles that God has done in your life in the past and take heart. Remind yourself that you are never alone but that God is working in you and through you to glorify His name. Call out to God in faith, knowing that Jesus will be there to not only take you through the storm, but to bring you out on the other side.