Sometimes the things people go through in life make them feel like they’re in a storm. Maybe it’s losing a job or a loved one. Perhaps it’s a trying relationship that just isn’t mending. But everyone has those moments.
And then there are moments like now where it might feel like everyone is in a storm together. Coronavirus is contagious and spreading across the world. Hearing stories on the news of quarantine and seeing panicked shoppers in the stores, even something as simple as being unable to find basic goods like toilet paper, can bring about inner fear and turmoil.
That’s okay. It’s natural to be afraid sometimes. There’s no shame in that. Jesus himself felt great fear and apprehension. Just before handing himself over to the authorities for his trial and eventual crucifixion, Jesus was so stressed and afraid, that he was sweating blood. Luke wrote about it in chapter 22, verse 44:
“So he prayed very hard in anguish. His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
The King of Kings doesn’t tell people not to feel fear. It’s an emotion of the human heart, just like anger, love and joy. What Jesus does tell his followers to avoid, is worrying. Matthew 6:31-33 says:
“Don’t ever worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ Or ‘What are we going to drink?’ Or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Everyone is concerned about these things, and your Heavenly Father certainly knows you need all of them. But first, be concerned about His kingdom and what has His approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.”
Life will have its fair share of storms. And it’s okay to feel afraid during those moments. Having faith doesn’t mean being fearless. It’s just knowing that God hasn’t abandoned you. And He won’t.
It may feel like everyone is in a storm together right now. But there’s another group who went through a storm and came out just fine thanks to Jesus. He used the situation to instill a little faith in the group, especially Peter.
In Matthew 14:22, the disciples are told to go ahead of Jesus across the sea via boat. He stayed behind and prayed alone.
But at night while the disciples were far from shore, a storm brewed, with rough winds and waves big enough to throw the boat around. It’s here readers get a calm picture of Jesus. When the Son of God comes upon the storm, there’s faith and serenity.
He simply walks out onto the water as though the wind and waves are nothing.
“When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. They said, “It’s a ghost!” and began to scream because they were afraid.
There’s that fear again. Each of the 12 disciples felt it. Nobody was above their base instincts, not John, not Andrew, not Judas. But Jesus reassured them, saying, “Calm down! It’s me! Don’t be afraid!”
And Peter decided to test that claim. Verse 28 says, “Peter answered, ‘Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.’”
Jesus didn’t even flinch. He knew the entire situation was under his Father’s control. So he used this as a faith-building exercise, not just for the other disciples, but Peter as well.
He tells Peter, “Come!”
What went through Peter’s head then? Did he flinch? Did his fear triple? Was he prepared to perish in the water? Whatever the answer, Peter displayed his faith boldly, likely believing one of two things:
Jesus really was out on the water and would allow Peter to walk on the waves.
If Peter did drown, God would take care of him, either in this life or the next.
Both require faith in God. And Peter does okay for a few steps. He walks right toward Jesus. What an amazing feeling that must have been, to have his eyes set on Jesus and be able to walk right through the wind and waves as though they were nothing!
But then his fear comes back. In verse 30, it says, “But when he noticed how strong the wind was, he became afraid and started to sink. He shouted, “Lord, save me!”
His faith diminished somewhat, and Peter started to sink because he took his eyes off Christ and allowed his worries of the weather to rule his heart. Fortunately, Jesus answered Peter’s call for help, showing that he never intended any harm to come to the former fisherman.
Verses 31-33 finishes the story of this storm and sinking:
“Immediately, Jesus reached out, caught hold of him, and said, ‘You have so little faith! Why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind stopped blowing. The men in the boat bowed down in front of Jesus and said, ‘You are truly the Son of God.’”
At this point in Peter’s life, he’s witnessed Jesus perform some amazing miracles, including walking on water. But his faith was still shaken by the storm. Even still, Jesus reached out and rescued him, showing he never abandoned Peter or the other 11 disciples.
This is the important lesson for the storm coronavirus has caused. Things are a little different right now, with online church and colleges closed. Events are being cancelled, and some folks are getting sick. Don’t be ashamed if the sudden change causes fear. It’s natural.
What people should not allow it to do is give power to worry and cripple their faith. Don’t look at the waves and the wind. Keep your eyes on Christ, and have faith he’s still in control, no matter what happens in this world.
If the news is scaring you, it’s okay to turn it off. Put on a movie you like, go for a walk with your dog, pray, and study your Bible. Don’t give worry power over your faith in the one who keeps people safe through the storm.
Just exercise some common sense. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze, don’t touch your face, and keep some distance between other people. And always remember that nothing takes God off His throne. He’s with us through this storm and any others that’ll arise in the future.
We have his promise in Matthew 28:20, “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”
Be faithful. Be calm. Now is the time to show others you built your house on the rock, not the sand.