“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said…”
Matthew 14:27-29a (NIV)
Storm raging, helpless to control the boat, fearful for their lives, the disciples see a figure coming to them in a totally unexpected way, and their fearfulness increases. Jesus calls out to them, “Take courage”. Why? Because this is their intimate friend and companion, come to them without their bidding Him and purely because they are in need of Him. He has come to be with them in the storm. His presence with them is meant to reassure them that there is nothing to be afraid of, for He is Master even of the stormy seas.
We’re in very stormy circumstances these days: virus fears, financial uncertainty, political and social unrest. Does Jesus see? Will He come to us too? We can feel pretty alone right now, cut off as we are from our usual supports, and perhaps stressed beyond our human limits. We believe, but perhaps struggle to experience the reality of what we believe.
Jesus’ response to Peter when he asks, in effect, “Is it really you?” is simple: “Come.” Peter asks – boldly, audaciously – for proof of Jesus’ authority, his Lordship as God, over the fearful, destructive winds and waves. Jesus responds with a simple invitation: “Come”.
Much has been made over Peter’s walking on the water and then beginning to sink when he focuses on the storm instead of on Jesus. What trust, what raw courage must it have required for this seasoned fisherman to step out of the boat and plant his feet onto the surface of the raging sea! Jesus lovingly chides Peter after he begins to sink for his “little faith”. Peter certainly had a whole lot more faith in Jesus than his cohorts who stayed in the boat and never had that singular experience of walking on water. Yet Jesus still says to Peter, “Why did you doubt?” Jesus responds to Peter’s audacious faith with a miracle; he responds to Peter’s faltering faith with a reproof.
When we look at the storms and frightening circumstances of our lives, and ask Jesus to intervene, to do something, what does our Savior ask of us? He asks us to make an act of faith by stepping out of the safety of what we know and what feels safer and more familiar. He asks us to instead trust His knowing and the safety of His control over our circumstances. He asks us to keep on going; to keep the focus of our hearts on His faithful Presence with us always, no matter the storms.
We may not walk on water, but our faith will be pleasing to Him and will give him room to make a way where there seems to be no way. Let’s pray for the grace to keep going, to not doubt but instead to grow in trust in the Faithful One who comes in the midst of our storms to be with us.