Day 16 - Peace in His Presence

Day 16 - Peace in His Presence

Written by: Katelyn Boyd

Matthew 14:22-33
22 Immediately after this, 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. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I Am here!”28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

We have two little boys at home who are 6 and 4 (you heard about our 4 year-old, Ben, the treasure-hunter, yesterday). If you were to ask our boys what they are afraid of, their list would include spiders, bears and hot lava :) However, chief among the things that cause them to fear is THE DARK. They do whatever they can to avoid the dark–they have bedside lamps they keep on at night, they ask someone to turn on the light before they enter a room, and they want someone with them when darkness can’t be avoided. Every night at bedtime, we pray for the boys that they would “be strong and courageous, because the Lord their God is with them wherever they go.” (Joshua 1:9).  Sam, our oldest, also has a little plush Jesus doll that he got for Easter when he was small, and he sleeps with it every night. The presence of that doll with him is the one thing that offers comfort to him in the middle of the night when he wakes up afraid.  Today, in Matthew 14, we will discover the peace that is found in the presence of Jesus and the power that comes with viewing our fears with the proper perspective.

In verses 24-26, we see Jesus’ followers in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of the night, fighting a raging storm. They see Jesus coming toward them in the midst of the storm, and they are terrified. Jesus tells them not to be afraid; why? He says “Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I Am here!” They don’t need to be afraid because He is there with them. The storm is still raging; but He is with His followers in the middle of it. We don’t have to be afraid because Jesus is with us. His presence brings peace. It doesn’t always change the circumstances that we are in, or take away the things that cause us fear, but His presence should change our reaction to those circumstances/fears. The wind and the waves may still be just as ominous, but their power pales in comparison to the One whose word they obey! 

When Jesus reveals himself to his disciples as He walks on the water, Peter responds in faith by stepping out of the boat and walking on the water toward Jesus. But, verse 30 tells us that “when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.” Peter was fine, walking on the water toward Jesus in the middle of the storm, until he took his eyes off of Jesus. I can imagine the scene: Peter was probably relieved at the sight of his Lord, the sound of His voice above the howling wind, after what seemed like the fight of his life, working tirelessly to keep their boat from capsizing amid the giant waves that slammed against it. Perhaps once he saw Jesus there on the water, he wanted to be as close to him as possible. His fear turned into faith in the presence of the one who had just miraculously fed 5,000 people with a little boy’s meager lunch. What went through his mind as he put one foot in front of the other on top of the angry sea? Elation? Awe? Did he shout, “Look, Lord! I’m doing it, just like you!?” much like a child imitating his older sibling? What caused him to look away from the Eyes that held his gaze as he came toward him? Was it the wind whipping his wet hair into his eyes or the driving rain that nearly blinded him? Was it a frighteningly close lightning strike or clap of thunder? When he saw the wind and thunder, he began to sink. All of the sudden, his perspective shifted from Jesus–the One whose presence offers ultimate peace–to the storm, the thing that caused him to fear.

 His perspective of the storm’s power was disproportionate to the truth of the ultimate power of Jesus over all of creation and over the storm  he faced. When His fears became bigger than His Savior, they overwhelmed him.

There is power in the proper perspective. We don’t have to be afraid because Jesus is with us; his presence brings peace. We fight fear by keeping our eyes on Jesus and “right-sizing” our fears in comparison to our Great God! After Jesus reaches out to save Peter, he remarks on his doubt; the Jesus Storybook Bible says it this way: “Did you forget who I Am? Did you believe your fears, instead of me? … Jesus’ friends had been so afraid, they had only seen the big waves. They had forgotten that, if Jesus was with them, then they had nothing to be afraid of. No matter how small their boat– or how big the storm.”

What fears are you believing instead of believing Jesus today? We can’t overcome fear on our own, but Jesus is with us and is willing to rescue us; call out to Him to save you, just as Peter did! Set aside some time today to spend in the presence of Jesus, focusing on shifting your perspective from the things that cause you fear to the person and power of Jesus. Maybe go on a walk and spend time in worship and prayer; acknowledge your fears to Him, and then spend time thanking Him aloud for the truth that you know about who He is and how capable He is of seeing you safely through each of those things that frighten you. Practice the instructions in Philippians 4: 6-7 tells us “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Dear Lord, you are so faithful. Thank you for being present with me, no matter how dark the night or how big the storm. I know that you are much greater than anything I fear! Help me to take my eyes off of the storm around me and focus my gaze on you alone. When I am afraid, help me to “put  my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) Thank you for the peace that is mine because of your presence with me and because of your power over all that threatens me. I love you, Jesus. Amen.