Summary: We all face storms, trials, tribulations in our life; sometime physical, sometimes emotional. But Jesus is always there with us, ready to protect and comfort.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve seen a rain line approaching during a storm? You step outside to just look around and off in the distance you see that rain moving in. You can see the rain headed your way, feel the wind kicking up, maybe see flashes of lightning and hear some thunder. It can be a little frightening. Sometimes you’re able to gauge how fast it’s moving and get back in before you get soaked. Sometimes your timing’s off and you end up all wet. And sometimes the thunder and lightning chase you back in. But the one thing to remember when you’re in that situation, no matter how intense things get, is that just as surely as you saw the rain approaching you know it’ll pass. The storm has a beginning, and it will have an end.
I want to talk about a storm, about the people in it, and about what the storm meant, because it was a perfect storm.
It had been a long and hot day. Earlier, Jesus and His disciples had the bad news that their fellow-laborer, John the Baptist, had been killed. Jesus, on hearing the news had had his disciples take him by boat to a deserted place, a lonely place in some accounts. But it wasn’t lonely long, because the crowds followed Him. When he saw them, Jesus was filled with compassion. He had taken the time to talk to the crowd, to touch them, to heal their sick, to teach them. When the evening had come the disciples, maybe a little stressed from the day, had asked Jesus to send the crowds away to get food. But instead Jesus had taken five loaves and two fishes and fed all of them, had fed over 5000 people. And there were 12 baskets full left. The disciples were tired, and they gave no argument when Jesus told them to get back in the boat and go to the other side of the sea while He sent the crowd away. The journey would be long, but they would be able to take turns resting. Or at least they thought they would.
But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind [was] boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out [His] hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."
MATTHEW 14: 24-33
Storms could come up quickly in this area. There were mountains that surrounded the Sea of Galilee, and the heat of the desert areas and the cool mountain air would sometimes collide over the sea, causing rough weather to spring up without warning. It was something Peter, James, John, and Andrew were more than used to, being fishermen. But still it must have seemed odd to them to have this happen. After all, they were doing what Jesus had told them to do, simply doing His bidding. Now however it seemed that they were fighting just to hold their own, bailing water like no tomorrow, rowing as hard as could, making no headway. And Jesus was nowhere to be found. What was going on?
Sound familiar? Of course, because, if you’ll pardon the expression, we’ve all been in the same boat with the apostles. We’ve all been caught unawares by storms, trials, and tribulations. How many times have you sat there saying, “I’m doing what you asked me to do” while having to bail water with both hands? It’s not fun, and it can be disheartening. You’ve been there, I’ve been there. You’ll be there again, and so will I. At some point in the future, and I don’t know when, I’ll be battling a storm of fear or doubt or sorrow. At some point I’ll be tempted to throw up my hands and say “Why are you doing this?” But when that happens there are two things I need to remember: