There are times each of us find ourselves in a storm. Such was the case of the disciples in Matthew 14:23-33. When we are in a storm, we struggle to cope and sometimes ask God why this is happening. In many cases we decide to hang tight while we tell ourselves things will change. In the bigger picture, there is a divine purpose and the result will be of benefit. Still, we don’t like being in the storm.
It would be easy to ask why Jesus would not make the storm go away. After all the many miracles he did in the past and the help Jesus gave to so many other people, he should help us. Should we rationalize, we would tell ourselves that this is all for the best. The truth is we don’t like it. We just want God to make everything right. The definition of right is what is in our own eyes.
If Peter had a choice between enduring the storm and later walking on the water, his choice would be obvious. There is no measurement to such an experience. The storm brings fear and concern like other storms. Walking on the water is so unique that only Peter, different from the other disciples, could do it.
Peter had a remarkable experience in this text. With the other disciples he was afraid of the storm and then they thought they saw a ghost coming to them but found that to be Jesus. Stop to realize that Jesus was in the storm, walking on the water, and coming out of the storm to the him disciples. That tells us that when we are in a storm, Jesus is there with us even though we may not see him. As Jesus approached the disciples’ boat, Peter asked for verification it was him and requested that he too could walk in the water.
When Peter took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink. What a mighty lesson that tells us to always keep our eyes on Jesus. Then we find we can reach out to Jesus for his rescue. At that moment he was desperate because he realized he was surrounded by the wind. For a moment Peter trusted Jesus and was brave. Another mighty lesson is that as we trust we can be brave in the storm. The storm did not cease when Peter walked on the water. Peter is such an example to us for trust, he became distracted from Jesus, called out, and trusted again. Every Christian knows what it is like to vacillate up and down in our experience with God. At that moment of trust, it is for the brave and not for the desperate.
In referring to verse 28, Peter decided to trust. He did not trust out of an impulsive moment. He was aware of Christ’s capabilities to work miracles and rescue people in their storms. That means that for us to trust it is based on past experiences.
And there are levels of trust. We trust a cashier at a store to give us the right change in return for our purchase. We would not put our lives in the hands of that cashier. We only trust to a certain point. Then we share a secret with someone close to us and trust that person will keep our confidence. We may not be willing to put our lives in the hands of that person either. However, there are those who are so close to us that whatever they say, or do we decide to trust them because we know that they will not let us down even in the extreme measures. So, it was with Peter. Christ’s track record was obvious that he has absolute ability and willingness to meet any needs to any extreme.
To decide to trust means the person trusting has an opinion of who they are, who other people are, and who God is. The person who trusts has an opinion of themselves that they can extend hope into the hands of another. Trusting is a universal viewpoint. It might mean that our opinion of other people could be positive or negative. In the case of the terrorist we trust that they will do horrible things because they have done horrible things in the past to create fear and chaos. In the case of a close friend we can trust them because they stood beside us to face a concern in our lives. In the case of God, we decide to trust him for who he is. God is not a mystique fog off in somewhere land. He is not a casual observer to our lives. He is the one who loves us without exception and without limits.
The decision to trust results in our own prediction for the future behavior of the other. While trusting, we have a mental picture to what limits we believe that cashier, friend, or God will be there to meet our needs. We do not have a mental picture that cashier will step in and save our life. We do have a mental picture for when we need Jesus at the most volatile place where we happen to find ourselves.
It was a sign of spiritual growth and maturity for Peter to step onto the water. It was not an exercise in futility. It was an experience that was personal with Jesus. It meant that Peter believed he would walk on water simply because Jesus said so. He presents to us a reminder that blessings can be more than what we could make happen.
In John 1:12 is the statement that declares believers have a specific and unique power. Unfortunately, bit by bit we can give that power away to others or to Satan. We become less of what God intended us to be. We begin to see ourselves weak and without abilities. We can become depressed and fearful even to the point of doubting our salvation. The solution is to reclaim our power that God gave to us in that verse. We look at a spiritual mirror and see we are made in the likeness of God. He is all-powerful. As believers he gave us power to live our lives in his behalf and before others. Herein is the decision him that we reclaim the power that is God given and rightfully ours.
For Peter to walk on the water he had confidence in the person of Jesus. He decided to come away from safety to go to Jesus. He must keep his eyes on Jesus. He must claim the ability or power that Jesus authorized him to have. These are the steps that are ours. The keywords to incorporate into our attitude is confidence, decision, Jesus, and power. This is what we must incorporate into our attitude to have greater trust.