When fear is calmed by faith
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‘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?"’ Matthew 14:30-31
This is one of the most remarkable episodes in the Gospel - Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a storm.
The event itself acts as a living parable of the salvation Jesus brings to all who call out to him. Salvation is God’s sudden calming presence during the stormy seas of our lives. We hear his voice in the Gospel and we take the step. Like Peter we experience rescue when we become acutely aware that when we are going down in our frailty Jesus is standing up in his regal sovereignty.
The challenge we often face, which Peter faced here, is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.The point at which Peter began to sink, and we begin to sink, is when we give undue consideration to the troubles around us. Think about it. Nothing had really changed from the moment Peter climbed out of the boat. The wind was still howling, the waves were still breaking and Jesus was still standing. It wasn’t as if all was calm and then the wind got up and so his faith failed. No, faith is refusing to be overwhelmed by the circumstances and actively trusting in the Lord of the circumstances - Jesus.
When Peter panicked and began to drown, he cried out to Jesus who stretched out his strong hands and caught him. To be sure, the gentle rebuke came later, v31, ‘Peter why did you doubt? Why didn’t you trust me?’ But our Saviour is not so fickle that he will let his loved ones drown in despair - he still responds to the heartfelt cry.
My dear Lord, so often I am like Peter, tossed around by life’s stormy seas, fearful, anxious, bewildered. It may seem like madness to step out into the storm and draw close to you - but what else can I do? When I become overwhelmed by my circumstances and begin to sink, then you are there, my Lord, to catch me. Lift me by your strong, capable hands and let me rest in you.