There is a Mom on Facebook – her infant son is sick, in the hospital and no one knows what is wrong with him.
I don’t even know her. But she is in deep waters.
I heard anguish in her post this morning. Her words were full of pain and surprise. I recognized them. Because I have heard those same anguished cries coming from me.
I have struggled with how God can be good all the time. What is the purpose of pain? Are the promises in the Bible true when they feel powerless to help or comfort me, much less change my situation? How are God’s ways always good or leading to my good, when people die? How does that bring them good? Weighty stuff for sure.
I have hesitated writing a post like this, because I am still in the struggle. I don’t have the answers.
But this morning, God spoke to me in a picture as he often does. Thankfully I could still see the road as well, since I was driving home with our lunches! It was a picture impressed on my mind, several times, so that I could see it really well.
Peter was in the boat, but left the boat to be with Jesus. On the water. In the deep. Jesus could have said, “No, stay in the boat.” But he didn’t. He told Peter to come to him. I imagine he even held out his hand. And Peter came to him! Success!
And then what happened? Peter became afraid of his circumstances and began sinking. The ocean wasn’t a safe place to be walking, especially in high winds. I’m sure the waves were crashing down around him.
And what happened when he began sinking? He cried out because he was afraid. The second he cried out, Jesus held out his hand to Peter. He was safe when he was holding Jesus’ hand, walking with Him. He was even safe right there in the deep waters. It just didn’t look that way. High winds. Crashing waves. These were realities and not just fears.
Let’s talk about time. If Peter got out of the boat, walked a little and got back in the boat, that seems doable. 5 minutes. Maybe 20 minutes. It was a limited time.
Jesus is the right guide to have in deep waters. His life was never easy. It was always challenging – always in the deep waters. He was hunted as an infant. Targeted by the Pharisees and Satan himself. He was hungry and homeless. His close friend died. His other friends betrayed him – in big and small ways. He never lived his life in the boat, safe from winds.
But even if we are gripping His hand, the reality of the deep water is all around. No where to stop. No rest. No retreat.
The people who are still in the boat forget that. They are at peace and rested. They see the storms as spectators. They don’t understand this deep water stuff. They would advise you to get back to the boat immediately. It was foolish to have ever left the security of the boat.
I think there are three choices. Curse the deep water and wish for the relative serenity of the boat – always looking back with regret. Feeling the weight of being in the deep water and letting our fear and confusion consume us. Or keep a tight grip on our Savior’s hand knowing he has been in these waters before and can help me through them. Yes, through!
I have felt all of these things and sometimes all of them in the space of a day. I’m in the camp with those who have walked out on the deep water because Jesus said, “Come.” It takes courage and faith to leave the boat. Especially voluntarily. Peter had faith that Jesus would save him and help him. But his faith was increased when he left the boat, experienced the wind and waves, started sinking and cried out to be rescued. As he headed back to the boat, he now had faith that had been tested. This is the gift of the deep water. It proves that Jesus is enough. He will save us.
Some, like the mother I mentioned, may feel like they have been shoved out of the boat. Regardless of how you came to be in the deep water, know that Jesus is there.
I write this to encourage you and to encourage me, He is there. With you. Close enough to grab your hand. Stop looking for the boat. Try not to look at the waves as they chop and crash around you – grab his hand and don’t let go. He alone will get you to the other side. It looks hard and impossible for a reason. Because it is impossible. Only He can do it.
When you feel you are drowning, cry out to Him and reach out your hand. He is there.