The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (14:22-34)
In today’s gospel reading we hear the story of the disciples who are in truth, in a bad situation. They were stranded on the sea in the midst of a violent storm. In all likelihood, they were in a boat that was quite small, meant for fishing, and they were really tossed about by the powerful winds and the surging waves all around them. They feared for their very lives. There was no coastguard to call, no life jackets, and no hope. But all at once, hope appeared. As if out of nowhere, and in the most unexpected way, hope was present. What was this hope? Their hope at that very moment was not a “what”, but a “who”. Their hope at that very moment was Jesus Christ.
There is so much for us to learn and to hear within this gospel message. We notice how the Lord did not wait for their situation to resolve itself in order to make an appearance. Far from it! We sometimes think that we need to do everything possible to order and control our lives as if we can help God. Yet, the Lord did not wait, He came to them in the most unbelievable of ways, He came to them in the midst of their trial and difficulty, in the midst of their trial. He did not require a boat, He came to them walking upon the water. He did not require a clear path or a resolution to the storm. He entered into the heart of the storm. Why? Because His people, His sheep, were there, in the midst of the storm, and they needed Him at that moment. He came because they needed Him.
We see some storms happening in the world around us. Sickness, disease, lawlessness, tyrannical governments, and much more. In our own lives we struggle with the trial of our own fallenness and we deal with our brokenness and the resulting broken relationships with others. All of these are parts of the storm of life. It can make you wonder if you can ever escape from the middle of the storms. We go from one day to the next and we wonder how we can take anymore. We wonder what is coming next? But there is something important to remember. We were not meant to be helpless victims to our situation in life.
Since we are the sheep and Christ is our shepherd, we are not helpless, we are known by God, seen by Him. He hears our voices and our cries. He will never leave us abandoned no matter how difficult our life might seem at any given moment. That is good news. The Lord says that He cares and provides for the sparrow, and He reminds us that we are of infinitely greater value than a tiny bird. Yet there is more. Because we are His children and He wants to share His glory with us, He will not merely be with us in the midst of trials and storms, He will cause us to be able to stand even in the midst of the storm, even upon the waters of the sea. In fact this is exactly what happened to Peter when he saw Christ. He regained his courage and called to the Lord. When we see Christ in our lives, we are given new strength and courage to face whatever we must face.
In the midst of our difficulties in life, no matter what they might be, we should not be overly concerned with the winds and the waves, we have to have faith. We have to look through the storm for Christ. This is no doubt a symbol and a reminder for us to pray through all of our difficult times in life and to seek His face. Don’t run to instagram and facebook, pinterest and netflix. The answers to the storms of life are not to be found there. Neither are they found in drugs and websites and games and the various things we focus on to ignore our pain. Christ is the only answer of God the Father, His very Word. As we seek Him diligently, faithfully, with a pure and ever repentant heart, in a moment, in an instant, we will see Him coming to us in the middle of our difficulties and we will hear these words spoken directly to each of us “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”
Even now, even if it is your most difficult time of life, it is no time to despair and lose faith. It is time to seek Him with greater resolve as did Peter at that moment that seems to us to be a moment of pure insanity. But what seems insane in our worldly thinking is often truly sane when seen with the eyes of faith. Who would dare to ask to walk on the water in the midst of a storm? No one, but the one who understands that His master is the only one who can conquer the storm. All of a sudden, what seemed impossible, becomes our reality. And even if we begin to falter and lose hope, lose focus, even momentarily lose faith, we can continue to follow the example of Peter who cried out as he began to sink “Lord, save me!” And Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and grabbed hold of His creation. He was of great value in the eyes of his Master and maker. You also are of great value in the eyes of your Master and maker. So even as you feel that you are like Peter and you are beginning to sink in the storms of life, and the waters are beginning to surround you and to creep up above your neck, the Lord encourages us to continue to have faith. As He said to Peter “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” Let us also be full of courage and faith. The One who is able to stand in the midst of the sea and calm the storms is able to handle whatever storms you are facing or will face, and He alone can raise you up to stand by His side through everything that life throws at us, even death itself. Because He is the lover of mankind. Glory be to God forever AMEN.