This Sunday’s Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33, was the well known story of Jesus walking on water and of Peter going to Him over the waves. It’s a story many of us know well and have seen paintings of since childhood.
The dark ominous clouds, the stormy seas, the frightened looks of the followers huddled together on the boat and Jesus in shimmering white glory walking slowly, steadily, toward them, a look of utter peace on His face, His glorious features unmarred by line or wrinkle, His eyes kindly smiling, even twinkling a bit as He looks at His brothers, His children, understanding their fear, but above it as we often look at our children when they experience a fear of the dark or some other thing we know holds no real power.
And then there’s Peter who bravely calls out,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
To which Jesus answers simply, “Come.”
I often wonder what if it hadn’t been Jesus and whoever it was had still said to come, what then? What if it was, in Peter’s fear, his mind playing tricks on him? What if Peter had stepped out of the boat then?
And maybe that’s what Peter was thinking too for a moment later the wind kicked up and Peter went down calling of to His Lord to save him.
And Jesus, His friend, His teacher, His Savior, said to him
O you of little faith, why did you doubt?
We know nothing of this question. Was it a reprimand? Was it curiosity? Was it meant simply to show Peter and the others how much room they had to grow their faith?
When things are difficult in our lives, when the wind kicks up the seas around us and we stumble and fall, what do we do?
Do we keep walking with our heads held high, never looking around but keeping our eyes locked on Jesus?
Do we stumble and fall, crying out to the Lord for help? Are we grateful that He allowed us that stumble, to experience that insecurity and loss, in order to learn a unique and valuable lesson? Do we offer Him thanks as Peter did and proclaim to others that He truly does have the power to save?
Or do we forget that there is one who can help? Do we drown in our own misery forgetting to call out, to look up, to reach for what He offers? Do we cut off the help God can give us, not because He has stumbled in the storm,
but because we have?
Storms are part of life. Some are greater than others. Some are man made. Some are nature made, and storms are things we will all experience to varying degrees.
Some of those struck by life’s storms will allow themselves to sink into a darkness so deep they cannot see the Light and forget what Good there is in the world.
Others will stumble and fall but call out and look Hopefully upward where, in one form or another, they will find the comfort they seek.
And a precious few, whether through experience or the rare Grace of God’s Love in their young hearts, will be unswayed by the storms. The winds will buffet and blow around them. They will be physically dealt blow after powerful blow, their minds will suffer humiliation and woundings, but they will not stumble. Their eyes will remain locked on the Lord and He will give them strength until their time here is finished and He calls those special ones home.
It is my prayer that you and I get to that point.
Please, pray often for the Iraqi Christians who are suffering storms we hope to never see:
Dear Heavenly Father,
You know the fear that is in a human heart when worldly affliction springs upon us. Right now our brothers and sisters and our small children are suffering thousands of miles away. They are struggling with nausea caused by incredible mental, physical, and emotional torture – a manmade storm of unimaginable proportions.
Dear Lord, please reach out to them and lift them from the fear that surrounds them. When they stumble provide them with the Strength of the Holy Spirit. Let their focus on You be an inspiration to us all, and Lord please let none of them succumb to the eternal darkness that is pressing so closely on their hearts and minds, the darkness that imposes an even greater threat than the legions of Satan’s followers swirling violently around them. Please Lord, bring peace to the region and calm to their storms and help us all rejoice in your uplifting strength.