|Posted on August 18, 2020 at 10:00 AM|
We are living through some trying times. The pandemic is threatening us physically, economically, and socially. The political rhetoric is growing more intense and hateful, especially in this election year. The violence is escalating in our streets and communities and people are nervous and naturally looking for someone (other than themselves of course) to blame. It’s like we are in a raging storm with nothing but chaos and confusion all around us. As followers of Christ what are we to do? Most of us feel helpless in the face of the overwhelming spiritual darkness around us and are amazed at how quickly things seem to go from bad to worse.
In Matthew 14: 23-33 we have a familiar story in the life of Peter that serves to illustrate the hope we have despite the storm around us. It took place just before dawn in the middle of a life-threatening storm on a lake Peter had fished many times before. As a commercial fisherman, Peter had a full knowledge of the inherent dangers of being caught in a storm at night. No doubt his experience told him he was in trouble just trying to stay afloat till daybreak. Being helplessly tossed around by the wind and waves of the sea put him in a survival mode. Sound familiar? These trying times have put us all in a survival mode to one degree or another.
True to his form, it was in the darkest hour that Jesus came to his worried disciples. How often have we been at the end of our rope in total despair before Jesus shows up to save us? In the midst of their storm Jesus came to them walking on the water! It’s unlikely that any of those men expected Jesus to show up, much less walking on the water, so they were naturally afraid and thought they were seeing a ghost. Their cries of fear prompted Jesus to give them words of comfort and they began to recognize who he was. We don’t know how long he had been with them in the storm before they recognized him, but we do know that he was willing to come to them in the midst of their storm. Likewise, we may also be assured that Jesus is with us in the midst of our storms as well. Whether we recognize him or not, Jesus has promised to meet us in the middle of our storms in life. As our own faithful high priest he knows exactly what we are experiencing and how to comfort us. He has promised that he would be with us always and would never forsake us no matter how fierce the storm.
When Peter heard Jesus identify himself as the “I Am” he understood that he was no longer in just a fierce storm on the sea. He recognized he was in the presence of the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe, his Lord. He saw Jesus as being much greater than the issues that terrified him in the storm. So he asked Jesus literally to command him to come to him on the water. Note this request carefully. Peter did not ask Jesus to get in the boat with him. Neither did he ask him to calm the sea or get rid of the wind. He didn’t ask him to eliminate the storm, but rather to allow him to be like Jesus in the storm. The point here is that Jesus is more concerned with giving us the experience of walking supernaturally like him than he is with making our lives more comfortable.
In response to Peter’s request Jesus simply said, “Come”. He immediately answered Peter’s desire to walk with him by commanding him to come. This tells us something of the willingness of Jesus to allow us to experience his own joy and comfort even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. Peter was exhausted, frightened, frustrated, and sick of the storm and his own efforts to save himself. He saw Jesus walking miraculously and victoriously on the water without any fear or frustration and Peter wanted that kind of walk. Despite his natural conditioning as a fisherman and against his common sense and his own knowledge of good and evil he wanted to walk like Jesus. And Jesus said come! He offers the same to all of us today… “Come walk with me in the middle of your storms!”