Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Trusting God can be of the hardest decisions we have to make. No matter how strong our relationship is with Him, life will push us to places and to emotions that can feel incredibly overwhelming. In those moments, we have a choice to make – do we overcome fear with faith or does fear overtake us?
One of the most relevant examples in the Bible that illustrates faith vs. fear is the story of Peter, walking on water, found in Matthew 14:22-33. In only 12 verses, we see Peter exercise great faith and then succumb to fear. The story started with Peter in a boat with his fellow disciples out at sea, in rough waters; Jesus was not with them at the time. During the night, Peter saw someone walking on water, who he thought might be Jesus. Peter called out to Him, and Jesus bid Peter to come out of the boat. In faith, Peter stepped out of the boat, and walked on water towards Jesus.
As the only discipled recorded to do so, Peter placed his trust in Jesus, believing that with God, the impossible was now possible. The story could have ended here, but it did not. Peter noticed the strong winds, became afraid, and started to sink. Herein lies an important lesson: When we have our eyes upon Jesus, the distractions will come. They always do. For Peter, it was the weather – the wind was boisterous, and he was doing something he had never done before (walking on water). Was it bad that he felt a bit scared? Afterall, don’t we feel a bit scared when life starts to get stormy? Yet, no matter how we feel, the overarching question remains the same – how do we continue to operate from a place of faith when the temperatures around us start to rise? How do we stay afloat when life’s distractions are pushing us to sink?
Learning from Past Experiences
If we go back a few chapters, we read in Matthew 8 about another incident that happened while at sea. The disciples found themselves caught in the middle of a storm, with their boat being covered in waves. This time Jesus was with them but He was fast asleep. In fear, the disciples woke Jesus up asking Him to save them. And He did – He calmed the winds and the sea. But before He did, Jesus said to the disciples in verse 26: “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”
Jesus asked Peter a similar question when He reached out His hand to save him – “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). Peter had already experienced Jesus calming the winds and the sea. He knew what Jesus could do; he had seen it with his own eyes. I believe that’s why Peter cried out to Jesus when he started to sink. Peter knew Jesus could save him. So why then, didn’t Peter have the faith needed to not sink in the first place? Why did the disciples come to Jesus, fearing the ocean, when they had already witnessed His power?
Well, because faith requires more than just taking the first step. It’s not enough that we get out of the boat or declare Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We must have a continual spirit of boldness and gratitude to overcome fear with faith, even when the storms dare to consume us. God has the power to protect us from whatever is trying to destroy us. We need not allow ourselves to become consumed with worry from the idea that God may say no. Instead, we must take responsibility for how we approach the throne of grace in prayer. The scriptures tell us in James 1:6-7:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
It’s okay to feel scared or to feel worried. We are humans and we have emotions. What God asks of us, however, is that no matter the circumstances, we maintain our faith. Notice this scripture’s strong correlation to Peter’s situation. The person who doubts is described as a wave being controlled the wind. Our circumstances should not have power over us, moving us closer or further away from God as it pleases. Instead, we are called to be steady. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
Peter’s Journey Back to the Boat
Jesus saved Peter, but the wind did not stop blowing until he and Jesus were back in the boat. It’s important that we understand the significance of this ending. Jesus took Peter through his fear and through his distraction to show him that it had no power over him. With Jesus, Peter was always in the ark of safety; he didn’t need the boat. That’s what Jesus wanted Peter, and all of us, to realize – that we can overcome fear with faith. As we experience the depth of God’s love and His strength, we learn to place our faith in Him instead of our situations or material things. If we make the mistake of looking away and starting to sink, turn back to Jesus. He always has the power to save us and carry us through the worst of our fears.Print This Devotional