Today, my little sister asked me why I haven’t written in a while.
I paused. Truth is, it’s a defense mechanism. But I don’t want to tell my little sister that, the girl who is not so little anymore, who is wise beyond her years (or mine), who looks up to me and encourages me to live more fearlessly.
Writing makes me face things. We all have that outlet – the thing we do that forces us to be honest with ourselves. I think it’s an incredible thing… when it’s challenging anyone but me.
I’m tired. I won’t bore you with the details – it’s all the usual suspects: personal stress. work stress. family stress. social stress. stress. life.
Do you ever go through times where you feel like it’s all hitting you at once? Like, it almost becomes humorous! You’re like – wait, can all of these things seriously be happening in sync?
The problem is, the longer I’m tired, the more I start searching for a reason, which eventually manifests itself as a lack of trust in God. See, I start to think – where is He?
And that’s hard to admit via public blog post because I don’t know who will read it and what they will think of me when they do. Some will be surprised. Some will judge. But hopefully, some will relate. One person will feel like they aren’t the only one who is struggling to keep trusting.
Let me make this clear: I firmly believe that struggling with trust is ok. I do not think that it is a reflection of your walk with the Lord, much less your salvation. There are plenty of instances in the Bible where great people of faith found themselves doubting that God was really on their side. But how they handled that moment made all the difference.
My favorite example has to be this:
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
**Let me just put this out there so no one is misled – I am not a Bible scholar and I do not have a seminary degree, nor any “official” training to analyze scripture. However, I do believe that one of the greatest things about our faith is that scripture is His Living Word and He uses it to teach all of us, no matter our education level.**
Right before this happened, the disciples had witnessed the feeding of 5,000 people (likely more than 20,000 in reality because women and children were not included in this count). And this wasn’t just any old miracle. Back up a little more and we find out that immediately prior to this event, Jesus found out that John the Baptist – his cousin and arguably most devoted follower – had been brutally murdered. Even with that loss weighing on him, Matthew 14:14 says that Jesus “saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them.” I don’t know about you, but compassion probably wouldn’t have been high on my list of ways to approach 1000s of people I didn’t know who had found me. Nevertheless, He goes on to turn 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish into a feast – all the while unfazed by the doubt of the disciples.
So the disciples are on a mountain top to top all mountain tops in my opinion. I mean, stop for a second and just imagine if you had witnessed that entire experience unfold! Armed with that kind of amazement, Jesus sends the disciples back onto their boat – without Him (vs. 22-23).
Do you think the disciples felt confident in Christ in that moment? I mean the guy had just performed incredible miracles despite great personal pain. They were full of trust when Jesus sent them out in the boat alone, and He knew the storm was coming.
I think it’s really interesting that the Bible states that the disciples feared that Jesus was a ghost when they saw him in the storm (vs. 26). Then, he calms them by confirming His presence – “Do not be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (vs. 27) I personally believe that in that particular moment in time, Jesus was physically there. But it makes me think about how I can relate to this today and I cannot ignore the reminder of God’s ever-presence in my life despite the lack of physical support. Sometimes He seems “ghost-like” because I can’t have a face-to-face chat with Him, but I still find calm in His presence through reading, praying, and writing.
Upon hearing Jesus’ words, Peter is instantly emboldened. Does anyone else feel like this was a quick turnaround? Does anyone else feel like that is totally relatable? It’s like – phew, ok Jesus, I was scared for a second but I wanted to believe you were still there for me, but j.k. I totally trust you so… thanks for that quick reassurance!
Peter takes it a step further, literally, and hops out of the boat into the storm. I think if you’ve spent any time in church or reading the Bible, it’s incredibly easy to breeze through verse 29 as if Peter stepped out of his car into the parking lot. Um, no. Last time I checked, even with all the technology we have today we still can’t walk on water. I’m pretty positive that was even more so the case here, too. The trust that Peter had in Jesus in that moment was at a level I can’t quite comprehend – and yet…
See, I love Peter. And I love that God chose Peter to be such a huge part of Jesus’ ministry, because a lot of times, Peter is just like me.
Peter’s trust is off the charts, Jesus is standing right in front of Him, he just witnessed this incredible miracle – and he still looks around and has an “oh, crap.” moment! Brave Peter is overcome by the circumstances around him even though He ultimately does trust the Lord.
What is Peter’s response to this fear?
“Save me, Lord!” (vs. 30)
I think of how many times I’m in exactly the place where Peter was. I’m trusting, I step into the storm, I’m confident in God, and then that one wave coming toward me is just a little to big… and I sink. And I’m flailing. And I’m trying to keep my head above water using pretty much any flotation device I can find: friends, family, my own intelligence, self control, pride, sheer will… but I never cry out, save me, Lord.
Again, I think it’s so interesting, and so purposeful, that God specifically says that Jesus “immediately reached out” when Peter called for Him (vs. 31).
Jesus didn’t make him sweat. He didn’t try to teach Peter a lesson so that He could smugly say I told you so. Peter reached, Jesus rescued. End of story.
I’d be willing to bet that in the moment, Peter was wondering how he was ever going to get himself out of this mess. Back up- why he ever thought he could handle this mess to begin with. I bet he was tired. It had been an emotional time leading up to this moment, it was in the middle of the night (vs. 25), he was just human. He realized he couldn’t save himself, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t wish in some small part of his heart that he could. Still, in the midst of all that struggle, all that weakness – physically, mentally, emotionally – he actively chose to trust Jesus.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I feel like I need a Peter miracle. I need God to just reach out and rescue me because I can’t save myself from the stresses that are crashing all around me. But I need to be reminded that the absence of calm in my life is in part due to my lack of asking and my lack of trusting that God can make His power perfect in my weakness.
For one reason or another, this song has crossed my path over and over this past week – at church, on the radio, listening to Spotify Discover (basically the highlight of my Mondays, duh). And I am struck by how relevant it is to this whole post…
“Do not be afraid. Take courage. I am here!”
Know that you are loved and prayed for and not alone.