In my recent post of two days ago, we discovered that the most often command of scripture, the one repeated more than any other, is “Do not fear.”
Many of us might have thought that the face of our enemy, or the mask that the enemy wears, is one of evil or some sort of characature of the evil one as described in scripture. (Keep in mind that even the Bible says that oftentimes “Satan appears as an angel of light’ which means that we would not recognize him as the evil being that he truly is.)
No, our enemy is fear, the opposite of faith and the most debilitating posture that can overwhelm any of us. Fear can cripple us because we lose sight of God’s path and what He’s leading us to do.. Fear may come as an apparent revelation or some new information that calls into question the foundation of faith upon which we have been building our lives or our destiny.
Fear has so many other expressions that we could get bogged down in simply trying to identify them. Suffice it to say that fear can blind us because it shrouds the goodness and glory of God in our lives. Fear confuses us because it allows things that wee have known and trusted as being truth in our lives as perhaps seeming to be unattainable.
In the story that we were studying in Matthew chapter 14, vs. 22-33 we discover one of the most powerful teachings on how to overcome fear in all the Bible. We ended our study on verse 27 where Jesus said to the disciples: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
What follows that is generally seen as one of the most courageous and exemplary acts of faith that any of the disciples manifested during Jesus’ time on the earth. It is when Peter replies to Jesus and says,
‘Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.’ Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ (verse 28-30)
So much has been made of the fact that Peter alone was brave enough to put his faith on the line and take a step out of the boat in the midst of the storm in response to Jesus’ invitation to “come.” (verse 29) Indeed, it was an amazing and courageous act; but one that also would be understandable given Peter’s inclination to be the most outspoken and even daring of the disciples.
However, Peter’s courage began to crumble as he saw the wind (and the waves) and fear, our greatest enemy, began to overwhelm him.. At that moment, as Peter was slipping into the water (How in the world did that happen!?) he cried out and said “Lord, save me!”
The response of Jesus is powerful. “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘Why do you doubt!'”
Much has been made about why Peter was courageous enough to step out but not strong enough to continue to walk with Jesus. However, there’s one other very important fact that I believe is relevant to most all of us who may not immediately identify with the courage of Peter.
In verse 32 scripture reveals that “When they climbed in the boat, the wind died down.” Please note that friends. The miracle of Jesus as told in this version of the story is that He calmed the storm without even speaking to it. Consequently, we can make an accurate application of this by saying that there are times in our lives when the storms may be raging and the difficulty surrounding us, but all we need to know is that Jesus is nearby and though we may not have the faith to go to Him, He has the love to come to us and in so doing He will bring His peace into any circumstance that we face.
Sometimes the greatest antidote to fear in our lives is the awareness of the presence of Jesus and the certainty that knows that with His presence comes His peace which is sufficient to address any issue, any struggle, any doubt, any inadequacy or struggle that we face.
Our greatest enemy may be fear, but our greatest strength is that Jesus promises to never fail us or forsake us; in fact, He’s ready to climb right into our situation in life and bring forth His peace.