22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” –Matthew 14:22-33
There are two characteristics that should not be part of the Christian life: anger and despair. And yet, many of us as followers of Jesus are consistently plagued by these two emotional states. Despair is prevalent in our society today, and it is especially prevalent also within God's chosen people, which should not be.
There are many problems facing us that make cause the feelings of anger and despair. As a community, we are facing unprecedented times. We're facing financial difficulties. We're facing spiritual difficulties. We're facing physical health issues. We're facing family issues. We're dealing with all kinds of issues. We all have problems. We're all messed up.
A Christian is not one that has it all together. A Christian recognizes their brokenness and the healing and fullness of Jesus. Thank God that He loves us just the way that we are, but He's not going to leave us that way. God is always at work within our lives even when we don't see it (John 5:17). We know that the Father loves us, that He has a good and perfect plan for each and every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28).
The reason we get a downcast soul is because we get our eyes off of Jesus and we look to the problems and troubles of our lives. In Psalm 43:5 we read the Psalmist reminding himself, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” The Psalmist is recognizing his brokenness, but also reminding Himself of the promises of God. Sometimes we need to give ourselves time to have a pity party, but then we need to move on.
When we are meditating on our problems, rather than His promises, then our problems start to overtake our faith. We start looking at our checkbook over and over and saying “Lord, how am I going to pay the bills?” We look at how big the giant is or how big our storms and this begins to overwhelm us. We become overwhelmed because we don’t necessarily have the emotional and spiritual depth the be able to recognize what the real problem is: lack of perspective (Psalm 46:5). When we face despair, we need to turn our direction toward Jesus; rather than continuing to focus on our problems.
Hebrew 6:19 tells us, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” You know why we need an anchor? We need an anchor because the storm is going to toss us about. We do not need an anchor for calm water; we need it for the rough water. Jesus tells us: “"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John16:33). The storms are going come, but Jesus is always in the boat or He's on His way to the boat. Jesus always knows what's happening in the storms of our life and He promises that the storm does not have the last word!
Dr. Rob Weinstein is an Associate Professor of Business Studies/ Chair of Human Resource Management Studies. He is the Founder and President of the M25 Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Cumberland County, NJ. He is also the Founding Pastor of Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton, NJ.
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