We all have trials in our lives, and these trials come in many forms; the lack of a job, the lack of money, fear of others, fear of being judged, assorted illnesses, and many others besides. When we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another.
I don’t know about anyone else, but certainly, at times, I have felt like I am overwhelmed and drowning, it seems like the world around me is trying to keep me from peace, to keep me in turmoil. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this, Satan certainly doesn’t want us focused on Jesus, does he?
When these trials come upon me I try to think about the apostles; they were men, and just like the rest of us, they failed, they made mistakes, they were controlled by fear and disbelief, and had to strive hard in times of difficulty.
Often, I ponder upon Matthew 14, particularly on Peter, on how he did what would be considered impossible today, walking on the water to meet with Jesus, on how he then floundered in fear, sinking into the very same waters that a moment ago he was walking on.
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!”
– Matthew 14:28-30
I compare this to my own walk, in faith I go where Jesus commands me to go, I begin well, trusting fully in Him, walking on the water like it is solid ground; but inevitably something distracts me, moving my focus off Jesus and on to the world around me. That is when fear, or stress, or worry, begins to set in; that is when I begin to flounder and flail and the solid ground beneath me suddenly becomes a great sea, seeking to swallow me whole. I could easily give 100’s of examples of these times in my own life, but I know, that you know, exactly what I am talking about.
I have said above that when we finally get past one trial we are often quickly bombarded by another. But that is not entirely true is it?
During these trying times, we often forget about the times of peace and strength we experience in Jesus. The times we feel invincible and that through Jesus we can do anything. We forget that on the sea of Galilee Jesus calmed the storm; we often lack in faith. (Mark 4:35-40)
We forget that Jesus leads us by still waters, that He lies us down in green pastures, that His rod and staff are our comfort. (The rod which keeps the enemy at bay, and the staff which is used to guide us away from danger) We forget that He, is our shepherd and protector, that He is our peace. (Psalm 23)
We forget our need for Him!
It too often seems that it is only when we are drowning that we remember this need and like Peter did, we call out to Him, “Lord, save me!” it is then that without fail we find He is right there, reaching out with an open hand, just as He was with Peter.
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
– Matthew 14:31
Immediately! Isn’t that incredible? Jesus is immediately there, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Sometimes we may not understand our trials, but we should understand, that through them all Jesus is always by our side. Remember that He supplies our strength and peace, just as He did for Peter, helping him back to the boat.
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
– Matthew 14:32
As disciples we should be striving to keep our focus on Jesus; the reason we flounder, the reason we are drowning, is because we have taken our eyes off Him, we have wandered and forgotten our need for Him. But it is only in failing, then in recognising we need Him, that we get the perseverance and discipline to keep holding on to Jesus. It is in failing to hold on to Him and then returning to Him again and again that our faith is increased, as our faith increases, so does our love, joy and peace.
It is when we call out to Jesus that He restores us to the green pastures, brings us back to the still waters, brings back the peace in our lives, even though the trial may still be upon us, we find renewed love for Jesus, and extra strength, perseverance and peace to face it.
We should remember that if we have failed, or are failing, it does not mean we are not loved! Jesus’ love for us does not depend on us, it is all dependent on Him; Jesus will never let us down and through our failures He shows us His perfection. He increases our trust in Him so that the next time, we are stronger, we persevere longer, we trust more.
This is increased faith and increased faith equals increased peace in our lives.
This is Jesus taking us and leading us through the process of sanctification, growing and maturing and transforming us. Reminding us who He is. When we have failed to keep our gaze on Jesus, then returned it back to Him, we remember and recognise who He is.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
– Matthew 14:33