Peter was confident he could walk on the water to go to Jesus, if indeed that was Jesus walking on the water. From the safety of the boat Peter saw it could be done, and His only goal was to go to Jesus. Obeying Jesus’ word, “Come,” Peter began to walk on the water toward Jesus. As he stepped out on the stormy sea, somehow the waves must have looked bigger on the outside of the boat than they did from the inside. In that instant he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the waves. Fear overcame him and he began to sink.
Maybe you answered the call to Christian service and humbly called out to God: “Lord, bid me to preach and I will serve you until death!” From the safety of a local church or a seminary classroom, you were certain your motives were pure and your success was sure. Now you find yourself in the in the midst of active ministry and the waves of trouble have distracted your heart from Jesus. There has been little fruit and much discouragement. Maybe those you serve have turned against you, or your friends in ministry have compromised the truth.
In these fearful areas of life, the strong hand of Jesus can lift us up from drowning. As it is written: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness … For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10, 13). In times of trouble, a direct prayer and the right hand of our Lord is what can seize us from the clutches of defeat.
The personal way that Jesus used His hand in answer to Peter’s prayer pictures His grace to answer us in perilous moments. Peter’s fearful plea was: “Lord, save me!” His cry for help was very direct, visibly urgent, and utterly comprehensive. Peter had gotten himself into deep trouble and he needed the Lord to save him. He could not do it himself.
Peter’s prayer is a model for busy, stressed-out people. He definitely did not have much time to pray; he was too busy sinking. In fact, the perfect time to pray is when you think you do not have the time, or when you think it will not do any good. Prayer is a vital time saver and the ultimate problem solver. Peter found time to pray, if only for a second, and I am sure he was glad that he did. What do you need God to do for you today? “Lord, protect my son in the military … Lord, heal my marriage … Lord, save my family members … give fruit in the ministry You have commissioned me to do … Lord, save me!”
As Jesus lifted up the drowning disciple, Peter learned that sheer energy alone is not enough to serve the Lord. While the men in this world may survive by force of personality and a quick decision making, Peter learned that serving God must be accomplished not by human strength but by looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith. No amount of human might could save him from the storm, but the powerful stretched out hand of Jesus could.
Remember that God hears you even in the midst of stormy events and even when you are overcome with fear and doubt. In his future writings, Peter seems to recall times when the Lord answered his prayer for help: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers” (1 Peter 3:12). May the Lord Jesus Christ be your daily help in time of trouble.
Matt Recker is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in New York City.