by Brandy Webb
I don’t really have the all-knowing answer to the title. In fact, I’ve been praying and asking God to give me wisdom on how to “walk on water during a storm.” Recently, some tragedies have occurred to people close to me, and it is because of them that I started asking God this question. I’m still searching and seeking, but I want to share some insight that I have had while thinking and studying about this.
Let me first point out that I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m okay if you don’t agree with my thoughts and opinions. I’m just sharing some ideas that came to me while studying.
While I was thinking about this question, I decided to go to where Jesus walked on the water in Matthew chapter fourteen. I noticed that there were a series of events that occurred prior to Him walking on the water. The first thing is that Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. When Jesus hears of it, he leaves on a boat “to a deserted place apart” (Matt 14:13). To me, this shows that Jesus grieved the death of John. He was His cousin, the man who baptized Jesus, the one who started the work preparing for Jesus, etc. Jesus was most likely grieving and probably wanted to be alone.
However, a multitude decides to follow Him on foot, and when Jesus sees them He has compassion on them (vs 14). I don’t know about you, but to me I feel this is important. Jesus was in the midst of a storm of grief, at least I believe He was, yet He sees the needs of others and serves them. Maybe this is one way we can get through the storms of trails, helping others. It gets us out of ourselves and helps us to move forward one step at a time.
I don’t want to go through the whole story, but this is when Jesus feeds the “five thousand men, in addition to women and children” with five loaves and two fish (vs 21, 17). That is miraculous. There is no way to know how many total people were fed that day, but it was a lot. After this, Jesus goes to pray while His disciples leave in a boat (vs 22). I don’t know why the disciples left, but what is important for me is that Jesus is constantly in communication with His Father. He just lost His cousin, and He just miraculously healed and fed a great multitude of people. He probably was exhausted and overwhelmed. So, He goes to pray. This is where we can get our strength when life is trying to drown us.
Okay, back to His disciples who were there in the middle of the sea… According to Barnes commentary they were approximately four miles from shore. I have never thought about how far Jesus walked on the water towards the disciples. This boat was truly in the middle of the sea, and a storm came up distressing the boat because of the waves (vs 24).
So, here we have the disciples in the middle of a sea in a boat that is now getting pounded by wind and waves. It isn’t a place I would want to be in, but isn’t that how life is with us? When trials hit us, it is like we are being pounded by wind and waves. It isn’t fun, and most of the time it is downright scary.
Jesus comes to them walking on water, and only one disciple, Peter, asks if he can join Him. This made me think about how sometimes we get stuck in our comfort zones afraid to walk in the midst of the storm. We cower down into the “boat” not wanting to move forward. It is like when we allow anger, resentment, anxiety, fear, or anything else to stop us from living. We know that in order to move out onto the water, we have to let go of the negative feelings, but sometimes it appears “safer” to stay put and not try to walk out onto the water.
However, if we trust and have faith we can do what Peter did, and walk out onto the water. Now, Peter didn’t quite make it the whole way to Jesus. He did make it part of the way, but “when he saw that the wind was strong” he became afraid (vs 30). This happens a lot in my life. I will finally step out in faith to move toward a goal, but then a “wind” starts blowing to try to knock me down. Sometimes it succeeds in making me fearful, and when that happens I must do what Peter did—cry out for help. Peter cried out, and immediately Jesus lifted Him up out of the water saving him from drowning (vs 31).
I know that Jesus lovingly asks him why he doubted, but I’m sure Jesus was prepared for him to have doubts. That is why, I believe, He was able to immediately lift him out of the water. Jesus knows and understands fear. Even He asked God the Father for help. It is okay to have moments of doubts as long as we are willing to pray and seek God’s help. We can’t cower in the boat. We must have faith and move forward onto the water during the storms of life, but remember, we have a Lifeguard out there in the storm to help us get through it. So, seek His help to walk on the water.