Many years ago, I was in Tennessee speaking when I received the message that my father was dying. I started crying. An older pastor who was there hugged me and said, “Use this. Every time you talk to ten people, seven of them will have a broken heart.”
Every day the world rolls over on top of someone who was just sitting on top of it. Do you wonder if God will ever forgive you for what you’ve done? Do you stay awake at night, worrying about your children and finances? Are you so lonely that you can’t stand it? These are all storms we face.
This is a difficult world. You aren’t Home yet. What do you do in the meantime? What do you do about the storms in your life?
A helpless situation
The disciples were in a helpless situation.
The truth is that we face it all--cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, sin, illness--pain in all of its forms. With what we’re going through, if we aren’t in a panic, if our hearts aren’t broken, if we don’t struggle with discouragement and depression, then we’re just not normal. One of the problems with many Christians is that they live in denial. We cannot afford to do that.
We are not fine. It sometimes hurts...and it hurts really bad. The disciples were in a storm and they knew they were in trouble.
A major mistake
The disciples mistook Jesus for a ghost.
I remember as a young pastor who didn’t know God very well I was asked to assist at the funeral of a young woman who had died following a diabetic coma after childbirth. It was a horrible tragedy. I can still hear the very famous pastor’s words: “I will not say that God caused this. I will not say that God had anything to do with her death.” I didn’t know much then, but I remember thinking, If God doesn’t have anything to do with this, we have a much bigger problem than a woman’s death.
I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but Jesus says to you now as he said to the disciples then, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” God is not a monster or a child abuser...but he is sovereign. In the midst of our pain, Romans 8:28 is still true: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
A commendable effort
We have a tendency to criticize Peter here as he jumps overboard into the water to get to Jesus, but we shouldn’t. After all, the other disciples stayed in the boat. Likewise, when Peter denies Jesus just before the crucifixion, at least he was there. Except for John, the others ran away. The principle is this: When a dog plays checkers, you don’t criticize his game, you’re just pleased and surprised that he is playing at all.
I don’t know about you, but of all the disciples, I identify the most with Peter. I suspect that many of Peter’s bad crayon drawings loving hung on Jesus’ refrigerator. There are plenty of examples. On the Mount of Transfiguration, when Peter didn’t know what to say, he went ahead and said it. Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet. Peter, in the Garden, cut off Malchus’ ear. (I can imagine Jesus bending down to pick up the ear and placing it back on Malchus, all the while shaking his head and saying, “Oh, Peter...”) And Peter put his clothes back on and then jumped into the water (most people would have taken off their clothes first!).
Let me tell you something. God was pleased with Peter’s failed effort. At least Peter tried. Over the years, I have seen so many of God’s people, in the midst of real pain, reach out, only to fall on their faces...but God was pleased.
The blood of Christ covers your failure, sin and bad stuff. So go ahead and risk. If you blow it, God won’t be surprised. He will love you.
A colossal failure
When Peter, in his fear, began to drown, Jesus reached out and caught him. Jesus didn’t say, “You made your bed, now lay in it” or “Peter, what a mess you’ve made, your faith isn’t enough, and I can’t use you anymore.” Instead, Jesus caught Peter and held him.
Jesus does that a lot for me too. My prayer is often, “Father, I’m here. I did it again and I’m ashamed.” Then he hugs me.
A friend of mine, Lea Clower, said once, “Religion is for people who are trying to stay out of hell. Christianity is for people who have been there.” Have you been there, to the hell of failure, disobedience and loss? Go to God. He won’t be angry.
Over the years, I have seen so many of God’s people, in the midst of real pain, reach out, only to fall on their faces...but God was pleased
Jack Miller said this, “All of theology can be summed up in two sentences: Cheer up, you’re a lot worse than you think you are. And cheer up, God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is.”
It is not only true that seven out of ten people will have a broken heart. It is also true that nine out of ten Christians think that God is angry at them or at least on the verge of being so. That is simply not true. God is not angry...so run to him.
A powerful consequence...
“Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” That is what it is all about. It is about God, not about you. It is not about peace or being happy. It is about God. And knowing that puts everything into perspective.
Time to Draw Away
Read Matthew 14:24-33 & Isaiah 41:10
Are you in a helpless situation? In what ways do you see God’s hand even in--especially in--your pain and struggle? In the midst of your storm, God really does love you. So don’t be afraid to risk and to run to him.
Read more of Steve's Devotionals here