In my 3 most recent blogs I have endorsed an ancient yet proven strategy for facing terrifying situations. Now, I propose a parallel and complementary approach. To explain this, we need to go on a journey – back in time.
Imagine you are in a small boat on a large lake in the middle of the night. It’s about 3 AM. By now, you are far from shore. It is very dark. The water has become increasingly turbulent and the wind has picked up. You are unable to make any headway; the wind is raging against you and the waves are battering the boat. In the darkness, you see a figure coming toward you. The other occupants of the boat cried out, “it’s a ghost.” Everyone is terrified (the same word and meaning discussed in previous blogs).
Suddenly, a familiar voice from the storm, “It is I. Stop, being afraid.” One of the passengers, Peter, answers back, “… if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt.” And when they got into the boat, the wind Him ceased. (Matthew 14:28–32)
Here are 5 observations that help me focus my faith on Jesus.
• Followers of Jesus face frightening situations.
Like the disciples of Jesus, you and I face situations that terrify us. We are in the same boat as they are. Circumstances arise which threaten and intimidate us. Stop being afraid. Trust in Jesus. (This is a good place to apply the principles of the 3 previous blogs.) Sickness, disease, economic uncertainty, etc. are real threats that terrorize us.
• Jesus is closer than you realize.
When we encounter the terrorizing storms of life, remember that Jesus is close at hand. Although the occupants of the boat could not see him, Jesus was nearby. He called out to them before they were aware of his presence. Even if they couldn’t see him, he saw them. Jesus has promised that he would never leave us nor forsake us.
• Jesus is patient with his followers and allows us to “prove himself.
“Peter is always a good example for hardheads like me. Rather than trying to control himself (Jesus had commanded him to stop being afraid.), Peter proposes an alternative: “if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Remarkably, Jesus says, “Come.” He further sustains Peter as he walks upon the waves towards Jesus. Notice the wonderful patience of Jesus as he condescends to the request. Ponder the patience of Jesus. He is like this to all his followers.
• Our faith falters when we focus on our troubles rather than on Jesus. Did you notice when Peter began to have even more troubles? It was when he saw the wind, that he was more fearful and began to sink! Peter is not the only one who has shifted his focus from his Savior to his circumstances. How easy it is to “take our eyes off the goal.” Unfortunately, it takes repeated practice (not to mention the power of the Holy Spirit) to fix our focus on Jesus rather than on our troubles.
• Even so, Jesus is quick to help us.
When Peter recognized that he is in deep trouble, he cries out, “Lord, save me.” What happened next? Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him. Jesus will never forsake us. He is always nearby and ready to help. Moreover, he has given us his Holy Spirit as our constant companion.
Now we know what to do when troubles threaten. So, let’s do it!
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2–3 (NIV84)