“The disciples were in trouble far away from land. …” Matthew 14:24a (NLT)
While many define peace as the absence of trouble, Jesus offers a peace in the midst of trouble. Matthew records the experience of the disciples aboard their boat in the middle of a storm. He sums it up in verse 24 when he says they were in trouble far away from land. In the next few verses, Matthew identifies what causes most of our fears. First, they experienced a loss of security. They were far away from land, and Jesus wasn’t with them. Then, they experienced a loss of stability. Matthew says that a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. They had no firm place to anchor. We often experience fear when the winds of change rock our boat, and we lose our confidence. The ground is shaky, and we don’t know what to do.
In verse 25, Matthew tells us that all of this took place in the darkness of the early morning hours around 3am! They lost visibility. One of our very first fears is of the dark. It’s scary when you can’t see where you’re going or what is coming next. Storms cloud our vision. What the disciples were able to see terrified them even more! In verse 26, Matthew said, “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’”
Why were they so afraid when they saw Jesus? They didn’t expect to see Him come that way in the midst of their storm! Just like these disciples, we often misunderstand God’s purpose in the storms of our lives. I have often misinterpreted storms in my life as times when I was out of the will of God. I mean, if you’re in the will of God, won’t every day be smooth sailing? If you back up in this story, you’ll discover a nugget of truth that transforms the whole picture. In verse 22, Matthew gives us this insight. “… Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while He sent the people home.”
The point is that Jesus sent them into the storm! Why? So He could show them His power, and they could learn to put their trust in Him in the midst of their storms. It’s in the storms where God does His greatest work in our lives. It’s there where He performs His greatest miracles! Storms offer us clarity as to what is really important in our lives. When we’re fighting winds of change and waves of setbacks, valuable cargo we once cherished is easily thrown overboard in efforts to save the lives of those on board. When we can’t see where we are going or what to do next, we can claim His presence to conquer our fears and experience peace in the midst of the storm.
Here’s one other nugget of truth to consider that gives me peace when I’m in a storm. Not only did Jesus send them into the storm but He promised that they would make it through the storm to the other side of the lake. Look at verse 22 again. Do you see it? “Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake …” God sees the end from the beginning. We only see the moment. Because He is a God who is already in our future, we can trust each moment to Him even when we are in trouble far away from land!