Matthew 14:24-25, 26 “but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.
....But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
Alone, overwhelmed, facing conditions that are out of control, unable to see, unable to make progress, threatened by waves that were beating against their only grip on safety. That’s how the disciples felt that night on the boat. Following the instruction of Jesus they set out on a simple journey across the Galilean Sea, a ride they had probably taken hundreds of times before as fisherman. But this time it was different. This time they felt like it would be the last time.
Hey, many of us have been exactly where the disciples have been. In fact, many of us have been there, done that, and have the scars, wounds, paperwork, court record, shame, memories, or bills to prove it. Many of us are there now. Nobody wants to be there. Nobody intentionally gets in the boat thinking, “I can’t wait to be imprisoned by doubt, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, fear, regret, abandonment, faithlessness, anger, and well, a vessel that is not made for waves crashing against it like this!” Nobody says that, nobody thinks that.
Why does God make us go through storms? Two reasons, both closely related and both producing the same outcome: Discipline and Discipleship.
Discipline and discipleship both have the same overall goal: to bring us closer to Jesus by increasing our faith in Him.
The purpose of Jesus putting the disciples in the boat headed for the storm is clear in the passage: to strengthen their faith and increase their understanding of who he was. Notice the confession they made at the end of the story, “Truly you are the Son of God” (v.33)
This wasn’t the only time a servant of God faced and overwhelming storm in a boat. Remember Jonah? He was once there too, but for completely different reasons. He got in the boat too, but not because God told him to...he was running from God. Some of us are in that boat too. So God sends the storm to get his attention and get him back on the right path. The storm brought Jonah to a realization that he confesses just before he is rescued “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9)
One storm is for discipleship and one storm is discipline. One storm grows his people, one storm get his people back to growth. At the end of the day the outcome is the same: his people are closer to Him and their faith is increased.
Truth be told WE NEED THE STORMS. They grow us, they get us back, they strengthen our faith and vanquish our doubt. Storms are not easy, but they are worth it. We have a stronger and deeper faith, we are more humble, we are closer to Jesus, and we see things we’d never see without the storm.
Then why does he put us in a boat by ourselves and send the storm? Why does he intentionally threaten our safety, sanity, and security? Because whether we are living in sin or whether we are just living by mediocre faith, we need to see him for who he really is. He does it so that we can realize our continual great need for him and so that we can see him come to us. So that over and over again we can realize our need for the gospel of salvation.
In both stories God came to rescue the overwhelmed voyagers. To Jonah, in a storm because of his mistake, he came in the form of a fish...to his disciples, who didn't fully understand who he was, he came walking on the water (the very thing that threatened their lives).
So if you are in a storm...maybe you put yourself there...maybe Jesus put you there...either way, be on the lookout because beneath or atop the waves is Jesus coming to you to rescue you. He’s coming to show you he is greater than the storm, to show you he is the way out, to show you he is greater than the storm, to save you from what you cannot save yourself from, to lead you to (or spit you out on) the shore of safety. He’s coming and he will calm, control, answer, or resolve what you cannot. Look through it, look hard...you will find him. He will rescue.
Listen, listen closely, and you will hear it too, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.”
...you’ll never know the truth of those words without the storm.