THURSDAY, MARCH 24TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLES
As we gather with Jesus to hear another of his frustrations – the ones we often share – we are grateful to know that he understands us and our frailties so very well.
I made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of me to the other side, while I dismissed the crowd. After I had dismissed them, I went up on a mountainside by myself to pray. Later that night, I was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn I went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw me walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But I immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” I said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward me. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately I reached out my hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” I said, “why did you doubt?”
And when we climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped me, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33, NRSV, revised*)
Place yourself as Peter as you think about this story. Could you have trusted Jesus more? Do you wonder why Peter doubted, with Jesus standing right there? Would you have been able to get out of the boat in the first place? Has someone ever doubted you? What is being revealed to you in this story today?
We certainly can have our doubts, can’t we?
In my reflection on this passage, I first question if Jesus really walked on the water. I begin to think of other reasonable explanations… this passage is a symbolic story, or there were rocks just below the surface, or Peter was afraid of all water, even shallow depths. And when I assume the story is true, I then attempt to justify my own doubts. If Peter doubted Jesus – when Jesus was actually there with him – how can I keep from doubting now? Finally, when Jesus asks Peter (and us) why he doubted, I could easily respond, “Because I am not the Son of God!” I may trust Jesus’s ability, but I certainly don’t trust mine.
I doubt the story and I doubt myself, all too swiftly and easily.
Then I sense Jesus assuring me as I recall:
~ some of the words he has said (“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18)…
~ a few of the miracles others witnessed (When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. Matthew 9:8)…
~ and his surprising work in my own life (“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b).
May we deepen our trust in God by recalling the many times and reasons God deserves our trust. May we deepen our trust by accepting more of Christ’s invitations, by being willing to take more risks, by getting out of the boat more often. May we deepen our trust by asking God for help; as the father of the sick child said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.