Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in His great love for us.

Today’s gospel recounts an important encounter between Jesus and the disciples in the tumultuous sea. The disciples were rowing in a strong wind. They were working hard, keeping the boat afloat despite the wind and the waves. The situation wasn’t desperate. These were able watermen who knew the sea and had determined that they could make it to the other shore in these conditions. Still, something happened, “and they began to be afraid”.
When John recounted the scene of the apostles being alone at sea in a storm he described the situation as “dark”. It was dark not only physically but spiritually as well. Although they were experienced fishermen, they were fearful for their lives. In the midst of their fear, the disciples want to take Jesus into their boat. This was sensible – after all, aren’t we supposed to take Jesus with us? But oddly, Jesus somehow takes the boat to shore. I wonder if this does not suggest that Jesus wanted the disciples to follow Him, instead of merely taking Him along with them. The Lord’s sudden presence – and His supernatural ability to walk towards them on top of the rough waves of the sea – only made them more fearful! John says they were frightened. And Jesus had to calm them with a reassuring command: “Do not be afraid because I am here with you!”

Aren’t we like the apostles when we experience moments of darkness, fear, and trials? While the Lord may at times seem distant to us, He, nonetheless, is always present. The scriptures remind us that the Lord is “a very present help in trouble”. Whatever storms may beset us, He promises to “bring us to our desired haven”. The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in His great love for us. When calamities or trials threaten to overwhelm you, how do you respond? With faith and hope in God’s love, personal care, and presence with you?
We note also that it wasn’t only the wind or the waves that caused the disciples to fear. It was Jesus as well, appearing at a place they didn’t expect: right in the middle of the lake! As far as the disciples knew, He had gone off to a mountain to be by Himself. What’s more, He was doing something they had never considered possible: walking on the water! No wonder they became afraid!
Isn’t that how it is with us, when God doesn’t do what we expect? When He acts at a time we hadn’t imagined He would? When He shows up outside our comfort zone of time or place or expectations of any kind? Of course it will stir up fear!

Jesus dealt with His disciples just as He wants to deal with us—by announcing Himself. “It is I. Do not be afraid”. Jesus wants to speak these words to you every time He reveals something new about who He is or what He wants to do in your life. He wants you to focus on who He is, even as He catches you off guard. He is all powerful, all knowing, all sufficient, always good, always loving, always merciful, always just. Sometimes God allows things to happen that redirect the paths of our lives. Sometimes He invites us to find Him in unusual places or unexpected people. Sometimes He is “hidden in plain sight” in unlikely circumstances. Any of these can be just as bewildering and unsettling as seeing Jesus walking on water. And when it happens, we need to trust that the One who is good and loving and kind and powerful and sufficient for everything is with us. He will never leave us!
Just as He came to the apostles in the midst of the darkness over the lake, with the wind strong and the sea getting rough. He comes also to us, in the darkness of our lives, to offer us release from our plight of pain and oppression. Although we may not escape our immediate distress, belief in the power of Jesus’ resurrection can give the ability to see through our sufferings to the freedom that lies at its end. Let us then cry out to him, in the words by which we respond to today’s psalm: ‘May your love be upon us, Lord, as we place all our hope in you.’

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