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When faith and fear battle

July 20, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Matthew 14:27-34, Psalm 107:26-31

Matthew 14
27 Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
28 Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.”
29 And Jesus said, “Come.”
Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind settled down.
33 Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”
34 When they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret.

Psalm 107
26 The waves went as high as the sky;
they crashed down to the depths.
The sailors’ courage melted at this terrible situation.
27     They staggered and stumbled around like they were drunk.
None of their skill was of any help.
28 So they cried out to the Lord in their distress,
and God brought them out safe from their desperate circumstances.
29 God quieted the storm to a whisper;
the sea’s waves were hushed.
30 So they rejoiced because the waves had calmed down;
then God led them to the harbor they were hoping for.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his faithful love
and his wondrous works for all people.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

“Literally, Jesus says, ‘I am’;… the activity in the context supports an allusion to Jesus’ deity (cf. Exodus 3:14, where the same Greek phrase used in…the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT, is used here also).” * Peter showed his very human mix of faith and doubt: “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” It worked—he was striding across the water! Then he noticed the strong wind, fear took over, and he lost focus on Jesus.

  • Psalm 107:26-31’s picture of God quieting a storm on the sea had particular power for the Hebrew people, for whom the sea’s tumult was a symbol of fearful chaos only God could tame (cf. Psalm 74:13-17, Psalm 89:9-12). Our world still faces many “storms” (e.g. war in Ukraine, repeated mass shootings, untreatable illnesses). Have you seen God bring peace in any way during such storms and their aftermath? If so, list ways you’ve seen or still see God work for good in tragic situations.
  • Think of one big personal life “storm” you’ve had to live through. Did you want Jesus to just make the problem(s) go away? Did you have any sense Jesus was with you even if the illness or problem continued? Scott Krippayne sang, “Sometimes He calms the storm, And other times He calms His child.” ** In which of those ways has Jesus most often supported you in life’s storms? How has that impacted your relationship with God, and shaped the person you are today?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, at times I’m riding high, walking toward you in faith! At times my fears distract me and take my eyes off you. Remind me that your love and salvation are always in reach, even when I feel as though I’m sinking. Amen.

GPS Insights

David Andersen

David Andersen

David Andersen is a life-long Kansas City native.  He’s been married over 30 years and has two adult sons.  He loves composing music, learning new things, writing, running, and creating spaces where people can encounter God.  David became the Leadership Development and Mentoring Ministry Program Director at Resurrection in May 2023.

In October of last year, I entered a six-month long season of unemployment. This was a new and unwelcome experience for me. Up until then, I’d had an unbroken streak of employment since I was sixteen, so this was unfamiliar territory.

Earlier in the year, I’d felt invited to read through all the gospels again, one chapter a day. In the first couple of weeks of my unemployment, Matthew 14 came up along with today’s story of Jesus walking on the water. As I read this passage, I felt Jesus say to me, “It’s me.  Don’t be afraid,” and I was filled with peace and hope for what would happen next.

I forged into this season of unemployment bold and hopeful, my head held high. I was filled with trust in God, and declared to anyone who’d listen, “God gave me the last job. God will give me the next job, too.” With that attitude I set out to find the job the Lord had for me.

By January, after several interviews that I felt went really well had yielded no job offers, my devotional time self-talk started to turn sour. Fear crept in and now I was hearing, “Nobody wants what you have to offer. You’ll probably be unemployed for the rest of your life.” I knew this was a silly lie, but I still FELT these lies when they were whispered in my ear. Maybe you’ve had this kind of self-talk yourself during hard times.

After a few days of wrestling with these fears, I thought back to my experience of this story of Jesus; his kindness and love as he encouraged me: “Don’t be afraid.” I felt like Peter who’d been bold enough to step out onto the water, but then started to sink when the fear of his situation overcame him. In that moment, I felt like I was sinking.

As I read those words again, I was moved by how Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached for Peter. No hesitation. No lecture. No object lesson. Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” and Jesus did. My heart shifted from boldness to a quiet stillness. “Lord, save me!” I whispered, and Jesus was there holding my hand, dispelling my fear. I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God.

This time I bowed my head, and with quiet resolve I whispered, “You gave me the last job. You’ll give me the next one too.”

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (p. 8448). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Lyric from “Sometimes He Calms the Storm.” Songwriters: Benton Kevin Stokes, Tony W. Wood © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group.