During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” NIV
In life, as on the sea, storms are a common thing. We all experience them. They come suddenly and without warning. One moment it’s smooth sailing, and then suddenly, we are fighting desperately to hold on. We get inundated with fear and desperation. We feel overwhelmed, helpless, alone.
This situation is captured so aptly in Matthew 14:25-31. The disciples are out on the Sea of Galilee and suddenly they are caught in a fierce storm. Their boat is buffeted by strong winds and tossed about by high waves. Fear fills their hearts. Many of them were experienced fishermen and they know how dangerous this kind of storm can be. In the midst of the storm, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. And His words to them are: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Jesus has a heart for those caught in the storms of life. When trials and troubles come, Jesus always draws near, and His words to us are always: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Though times of storm may often seem the loneliest of times, they are actually times when Jesus is closest to us. In Isaiah 43:2-3, the Lord promises: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
One other thing about the storms of life: Jesus uses them to stretch our faith and make us stronger. In the midst of the storm, He comes to us and says “get out of the boat” (in other words, let go of everything you are depending upon) and “walk on water” (depend on God alone). If we look at the wind and the waves and judge our situation on that basis alone, if we allow doubt and unbelief to fill our hearts, the waves will overwhelm us. But if we look to Jesus and have faith in Him, He will lead us through the storm. If we look to Jesus, we cannot fail; we will not be overwhelmed no matter how terrible the storm!
Are you going through a storm right now? Jesus says to you: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Look to Him. Trust Him. Hold on. You can be sure that He is there with you. You can be sure that He will not allow the waters to overflow you.