When God is near, you cannot sink

“Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” New Testament: Matthew, Chapter 14.

It was the miracles of miracles at that point. Jesus’ first mass miracle took place in Decapolis, where he fed 10,000 to 15,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread.

I can only imagine the excitement as the multitudes watched the fish and bread multiply before their eyes. “Yahweh Jireh,” (in Hebrew — God, the provider), fed the hungry in an unprecedented display of his glorious provision to the masses.

The disciples’ hearts must have overflowed with joy and also pride. After all, they were his 12 selected men — the ones chosen to walk alongside the Christ.

As we read the text, it’s interesting to realize that, instead of allowing them to remain with the crowd a little longer, scriptures say that Jesus immediately “made” the disciples get into the boat. He then instructed them to cross the sea and go to the other side while he dismissed the crowd.

I believe Jesus knew the disciples’ hearts were swelling with pride for being part of Messiah’s inner circle. Therefore, they needed to withdraw, get away from the accolades of men and the material substance of the miracle, regroup, and realize that he had come to give them much more than just daily bread. He knew that their faith needed refining, which would only come through testing. And they were undoubtedly about to get it!

Success and popularity have the power to excite us and make us greedier, hoping for more extraordinary, bigger and better things. The problem is that, though we hardly ever realize it, our hopes for spiritual victories too often include hopes for our own advancement. Therefore, after a season of miracles and supernatural blessings, God often pulls us out of the hype and excitement and sends us on to the next journey of testing, where we will realize that our faith must grow in the same proportion as our humility and dependence upon God.

It’s true. We see the bread before our eyes, and our faith grows. After all, we can touch it, taste it, feel it. The provision and deliverance are real! We can boldly shout to the world: He provides! He heals! He reigns!

However, it is sometimes right after we witnessed a miracle that God tests the strength of our faith. That is what happened to the disciples later that day.

Matthew continues the account: That evening, while standing on the boat, the disciples faced a storm. Jesus walked on water toward them, and they thought he was a ghost. But Peter, in his heart, knew it was the Lord:

“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

‘Come,’ he (Jesus) said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Peter’s apparent weakness is well known to us.

God often takes us out of the comfort that the material blessings provide and sends us into the “Sea of the Unknown.” And as we enter the dark hour once again, storms arise, and our boat threatens to sink. Fear rises within us, and we forget.

Darkness suddenly blinds the eyes that saw the impossible. The hands that touched provision become restless. The tongue that proclaimed the miracle cannot even pray. We watch the winds and the waves raging and forget the grand miracle we just witnessed ashore.

My heart understands Peter as he realized that it was Jesus who had come to their rescue! I can fully grasp his reason to say: “tell me to come to you on the water!” He knows Jesus is his safety. He’s eager to believe. He thinks his faith to be strong and trusts his heart not to wave.

So do we, Peter. So do we.

And yet, as our eyes veer from the Savior’s face to focus on the raging sea, we forget the bread and the fish. The storm reveals our weakness… And we sink.

I genuinely get it. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve watched God act; our weak hearts so often betray what we know: That even when God seems to have left us alone, he is always there. All we have to do is call out to him: “LORD! Save me,” and hear his steady voice whisper in the darkness:

“Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid: You can face the storm. Only do not trust your feeble heart, Child. Just trust my omnipotent hand to deliver you. I’ll pull you out of the icy, stormy waters and make them solid ground. Because wherever I stand, you cannot sink.”

“To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust him in the dark — that is faith. ”― C.H. Spurgeon

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com to learn about her speaking ministry, Bible studies and book. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com