Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 22, 2020
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:22-27
When we read the Gospels, it is easy to be swept away by the “otherness” of these stories. The Sea of Galilee is for us a place of mystery and wonder as we imagine our Lord and his disciples navigating these ancient waters thousands of years ago. However, that was not the case for the disciples! These were fishermen who had spent countless hours on this sea, day in and day out, with very little change or variation. For them, this was simply normal life, as routine as you or I going grocery shopping, commuting to work, or studying for an exam. Yet it is the routine and normalcy of this story that carries for us such great power.
What happens when chaos and confusion crashes into your normal life? Perhaps you’re at home and you receive a late-night call that a beloved family member is at death’s door. Or a routine doctor’s appointment reveals a severe illness. Or you’re sitting at your desk or cubicle and are suddenly told the company can no longer afford your position. These are the storms of life that come upon us in the middle of normal life, often without any warning or preparation.
The peace of God is most often encountered in the everyday chaos of our lives. As such, you and I must learn to get “in the boat” and set out to sea, journeying through life with faith and trust in the goodness of God. If we can do this, not only will we pass through the chaos of the storm with Jesus at our side, we will learn the lessons he longs to teach us in the midst of the storm. Jesus invites us and allows us to endure seasons of great challenge, not because he is unfaithful, but because he is teaching us and training us to bear all things with faithful endurance.
You and I must learn to see the power of virtue formed through suffering and trial. We must believe that struggle is one of the primary ways God shapes and molds us into the people he has made us to be. And so, if you are enduring a season of painful chaos, do not immediately assume God is absent or uninvolved. Could it be that he is instead urging you on towards greater responsiveness to his Spirit and trust in his compassionate care?
Perhaps this requires us to change the way we pray. What if today, instead of praying “Lord, take away my pain,” we instead pray “Lord, let me not miss the lesson you are teaching me through this struggle.” If we can keep our hearts and lives focused on Jesus, even in the midst of the everyday struggles of our lives, I believe we will hear his words spoken over us this very moment, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Father, help us to grow and become more and more like Jesus, even in the midst of seasons of great pain and sorrow, trusting that you are with us and that we therefore have nothing to fear. Amen.
Pray this prayer daily for the next week: “Lord, let me not miss the lesson you are teaching me through this struggle.”
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