This is one of my favorite places in the world: St. Joseph, Michigan, where I grew up. In the photo is the end of the north pier where the iconic lighthouse is located on Lake Michigan. (And famous because it was featured on a U.S. postage stamp in 1995)
I have many photos of the beach and the lighthouse in my memories, and this is another one that I capture Lake Michigan and the pier on a gorgeous, cool September day.
Many visitors to the area love taking photos of the serenity like this particular day. Others prefer to wait for the gorgeous sunsets over the lake. However, the visitors are gone when the winds become fierce and the waves are rolling when a storm comes in from the west.
It made me think of 2020: the rolling waves of unknowns, with an undertow that keep you from reaching the shore. You find yourself continually swimming.
Or let’s face it. It’s all you can do to hold your head above water.
In the Gospels, we read about the time when the disciples were in a storm of their own. They were in their boat on the Lake of Gennesaret during a storm with high winds and rough waters. In the dark.
Where was Jesus? He was still on land, in the mountainside where he wanted to pray alone. In fact, during the night Jesus saw the disciples “straining at the oars because the wind was against them.” (Mark 6:48) Yet he did not do anything until “shortly before dawn.” (Matthew 14:25)
Now you may be asking: Why would Jesus stay where he was and not immediately help the disciples when he saw they were in need? Did he not care that they were rowing all night?
The story doesn’t end there. When it was dawn and the boat was three to four miles out and still experiencing the storm, the disciples saw a figure walking on the water. “It’s a ghost!” they cried in fear. They were certainly terrified.
If the storm didn’t scare them half to death, seeing a figure walking on the water three miles from shore in the daylight would certainly do the trick.
Jesus immediately replies, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
At this point in the story, Matthew adds a special little insight for us. Peter, the brash and often compulsive disciple, speaks up. “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replies, ‘Come.” (14:28) Even though the storm was continuing, it seemed as though Peter didn’t take much time to hoist himself over the side of the boat down to the water. Walking on water! I can imagine Peter grinning like crazy as he started toward Jesus.
Peter suddenly remembers that he is out on a big lake, in a fierce storm and he begins to sink. “Lord, save me!” Immediately, Jesus reaches for him to keep him from drowning. “You of little faith,” he replied. Why did you doubt?”
Peter is saved. Whew. But it’s not the end. Remember, the storm has not stopped.
Mark 6:51 says: “Then he (Jesus) climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They (the disciples) were completely amazed.”
First, they think they see a ghost, next their boatmate decides to risk life and limb to meet Jesus on the water and then the storm that they have been fighting all night is gone. As in *poof*.
What a night.
Amazingly, this is not the first time they have experienced a severe storm with Jesus! At an earlier time, while on the Sea of Galilee, a furious storm came up while Jesus was sleeping in the stern of the boat. The disciples wake him up and say “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Immediately, Jesus rebuked the wind and told the waves to calm. He said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41)
It seems as though the disciples needed a reminder of what to do during a crisis. This time without Jesus in the boat.
They may have felt as though Jesus didn’t care they had to endure another storm — until they saw that Jesus was walking out to meet them in the storm.
Now I’m sure you’re waiting for a Biblical application, right? Well of course. That’s because through the Bible, God can teach us what is true and teach us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible has wisdom for anything that we are experiencing in life.
The year 2020 has been crazy for many of us beyond imagination, and we are each in a unique storm of our own. Just like the disciples fighting a storm all night without knowing when it will end, we can feel that way about our current struggles.
Jesus still sees. He sees us struggling at the oars, trying to make it to shore. Does he care what we are going through? Of course. Jesus told the disciples:
“Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 6-7)
God created us. He is our good Father who not only loves us but allows us to learn from our struggles, just as we do with our own children. Just as Peter did, God wants us to reach out in faith when we are sinking and ask for help. (James 1:6) People who say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is wrong. It’s when God is our strength that we become strong! (Isaiah 40:29-31)
Yes, we are cared for. We are seen. We never have to struggle alone when we have hope in God as our Salvation. (Psalm 27:1)
3 responses to “You Are Sinking in Unknowns. Does God Even Care?”
“Do you still have no faith?” – I'm pretty sure God has wanted to ask me that a time or two… hundred. 😉 Peter's faith is astounding, for that moment. He gets out of the boat and walks into the storm, with nothing solid beneath his feet, and all because he sees Jesus at a distance. Quite a distance. But he was only human, so of course he suddenly remembered were he was. I like to think that God celebrates those brief moments of faith and cheers us on. Thank goodness He loves us even when we look away from him and back at our own circumstances.
I grew up in Detroit and went to came in St Joseph! Your post today is the same theme as mine was on the UBC. Glad to have met you
This is very profound — perfet for these difficult times we are going through!