Staying Afloat In The Midst Of The Storm
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (Matthew 14:28-32)
The other night as I prayed about the current situation in our world, the Lord reminded me of the storm my own family went through for close to 10 years. Several years ago, my family and I went through what seemed like a long and drawn out storm that tested our faith on a daily basis. Day after day and night after night I would pray “How much longer, Lord?” The answer always remained the same, “just a little while longer”. I soon came to realize that my definition of “a little while longer” and the Lord’s definition were two entirely different definitions. When we hear “just a little while longer”, we regard it as a few days or weeks. But this isn’t always the case with God. Sometimes there are storms in our lives that require a longer period of time in order for God to fix or change what needs to be fixed or changed in our lives. I remember during that time I felt isolated at times from friends and family, not only because we live in the country, but because the storm was very difficult and it needed to be faced by just my family because change was needed. There are times people are needed to help us, but then there are times when we must face our trials alone and with God. Although we weren’t entirely isolated from others, there were times when it was just us. Our storm lasted quite a while but during that time, we were being tested, molded and shaped for where God wanted us to be. This required us to be held in the heat of the storm, receive some hammering and then some smoothing out. There were days I didn’t think I could endure it any longer, but as days, weeks months and years went by, my faith grew and my spirit became stronger as I turned to the Lord on a daily basis for my nourishment and strength. Now that we are on the other side of that horrendous storm, I can see why we went through it. We are different people today, stronger in spirit and closer to Christ. Though we are by no means perfect, God removed a lot of our old creature and filled us with His characteristics. It also prepared us to handle future difficulties.
As I prayed the other night, God reminded me of this and how He never left our side during that long storm. He was there when we were scared, anxious, angry, hurt, and unable to understand what was going on. There were times we felt like a blind person, slowly moving along and unable to see the path before us. Then there were times where we had enough light on the path to continue moving forward. Yet through it all, Jesus was there walking beside us, comforting us, guiding us, and instilling His strength along the way. We just had to take a moment to sit, be silent and listen for His direction. However, the most important thing we had to do was to keep our focus directly on Christ because the minute we removed our focus off of Him, we heard fear and despair whispering in our ears. But once we re-shifted our focus back on Christ, we felt His strength and comfort.
I was then reminded Matthew 14:28-32 when the disciples were in the boat on the water and they encountered rough weather. Vs 24 states the following:
“and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. “
John 6:18-19 states that a strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. How rough is rough? Matthew 14 states the boat was buffeted by the waves. What exactly does that mean? Buffeted means to strike as with a hand or a fist; to strike against or push repeatedly; to force ones way by a fight or struggle. So when we apply this to the boat, it means that this boat was being tossed around, hit by waves and pushed repeatedly. This was no place anyone would want to be in the midst of a terrible storm. Yet here were the disciples, 3-4 miles away from land (John 6:19), rowing for at least a couples hours and no doubt tired from the day’s events, now facing what must have seemed like a horrendous storm. How many times during storms in your own life have you felt the strikes against you? How many times have you felt pushed around repeatedly? How many times did it seem like you would get knocked down, get back up only to feel knocked down again? The same was happening with the disciples in the boat. The wind and waves were tossing them around, slapping against them and causing fear in the midst of the storm.
Shortly before dawn, the disciples saw Jesus walking on the lake towards them and became terrified. They thought it was a ghost and cried out in fear. If they saw Jesus, why did they think it was a ghost and become afraid? They were afraid because they didn’t recognize Him. Their vision was blurred or distorted because of everything that was going on…a rough storm, fatigue, high emotions. All of these conditions can affect anyone’s vision from seeing clearly. When you travel in a car in the pouring rain, your vision can be somewhat impaired due to the condition of the weather. So it is worse when you are out in it, rowing on the waters and trying to keep afloat with the waters slapping against your face. When we are in the midst of a storm or trial, due to the strength or condition of our storm which can toss us around and come at us from all sides, we can become fearful to the point we may not recognize Jesus in the midst of our storm. This can leave us crying out in fear because our vision is impaired by the storm.
Jesus, however, seeing and hearing their fear, immediately comforted them saying in Matthew 14:27, “Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid!” In verses 28-29, Peter then said: “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus replied, 29 “Come,” Once Jesus identified Himself, Peter put forth a measure of faith to step out of the boat only when Jesus called him too. I find this an important part of the story. Peter just didn’t get out of the boat and go running to Jesus blindly. Once Jesus identified Himself, Peter asked for Jesus to have him come to Him if it truly was Jesus. It wasn’t until Jesus told Him to come did Peter make a move in faith. Sometimes during a storm, we don’t wait for the Lord to tell us to when to move or give us direction. We do it without really knowing if Jesus is in the midst of it or not. We say “I’m gonna step out in faith and go!” but that move could be a dangerous one if Jesus isn’t calling you to move yet. In the midst of a storm we have to listen closely and have discernment to know if Jesus is calling us to make a move or not. It could also be our emotions, other people or even the enemy. In the case with the disciples, Jesus made Himself known loud and clear, and He will do so with us.
Once Jesus gave Peter the command to come to Him, Peter stepped out of the boat in faith and began walking on the water to Jesus. When Jesus gives us the command to move, we can take that step in faith knowing that He will protect us and provide what we need to accomplish the mission. Peter started out with great faith as he walked towards Christ but we see in verses 30 and 31, the effect fear had on his faith:
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Fear can stop us dead in our tracks even though Jesus gives us the go ahead to move. When we are in the midst of a storm, there are times when the storm becomes so rough that we may take our eyes off of Christ and we begin to sink in fear. We then cry out “Lord, save me!” This is when Jesus reaches out, grabs our hand and catches us saying “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” To get through any storm, our faith must be bigger than our fear. We must remember the mile markers…all the times in the past when we went through problems and difficulties and Christ came to our rescue. We must remind ourselves He was faithful then and He will be faithful now. We must fight our fears with the sword of the Spirit…the Bible.
No matter what your storm is at this time be it Covid-19, a family problem, financial issues, an illness, job loss etc, remember your mile markers. Remember all of your storms in the past and how Jesus was faithful to walk you through it and rescue you, when you brought your situation to Him in prayer.
We must take time to be with the Lord, not only expressing our concerns but giving thanks and praise to Him. We must bring our concerns and the concerns of others to Him and ask Him for direction. Then we must be patient and wait in faith for His direction. God knows your concerns and your needs before you even ask as we see in Isaiah 65:24:
“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
Take some time to sit with the Lord and express your concerns and fears. Seek His direction and wait patiently for His answer before you make a move. Make it a number one rule to never make a move out of emotion. Stand firm on the Word of the Lord and He will reveal Himself to you and rescue you.
Oh, and let me remind you of the outcome of that storm which we can see in Matthew 14:32:
32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
When Jesus comes into your boat, you can rest assured in knowing that He will calm the storm around you and bring a calming peace within you. And even if that storm continues, YOU will have peace because Christ is with you.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)