Look at the scene in Matthew 14:24-33. In our troubles we are sometimes like these disciples. Our ship is now in the midst of the sea, tossed with the waves, for the wind is contrary. Jesus is absent and we fear that our trials will overwhelm us, and we must utterly sink in our adversaries. While we are sailing upon a smooth sea, we could sing with pleasure to ourselves.
“Begone, unbelief, my Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear.
By prayer let me wrestle, and He will perform.
With Christ in the vessel I smile at the storm.”
But now we are in a sea of trouble, and no small tempest is upon us, what are we saying? “I smile at the storm?” I know it is not impossible to do so when Christ is felt to be with us in our tribulation. Then we can say, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble thou wilt revive me.” And even with the prophet sing: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; and the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me walk upon my high places” (Hab. 3:17-19).
But in the sea of afflictions, if alone, if our God is not feelingly present, then we are tossed with the tempest and not comforted, and none can comfort and succor us in a great fight of afflictions, but Jesus Christ, the Captain of our salvation. Sometimes, amidst the buffetings of our trials, we find ourselves reeling to and fro, and we stagger beneath the blows of the waves of our troubles like a drunken man, and are at our wits’ end. We come to the end of our resources, neither know we what to do. “I am shut up and cannot come forth.” Some of the children of God know but little of such adversities of soul; as yet they have not come into deep waters, and know but little of the furnace of affliction. In Matthew 14:25 we read: “And in the fourth watch in the night, Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.” They were tossed with the waves, it was night, but Christ came to them. He comes walking on the troubled sea; He treads it under His feet, He has dominion over it.
O troubled child of God, He will come to you Christ came to them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid!” The tempest still rages, the waves run high, and they are tossed upon the troubled sea. Peter answers Jesus and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” The voice of Christ had inspired his heart, and if this is Christ, the Son of the living God, walking upon the waves, then if He will bid me come to Him, I too, can walk on this tempestuous sea, I can tread these afflicting waves beneath my feet; yes, with Jesus near I can walk even this dark night upon the deep.
Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego walked in the fiery furnace with the Son of God (Dan. 8:25). Daniel spent a sacred night in the lion’s den; they did not devour him, neither did they affright him with their roaring. He saith, “My God hath sent His angel and hath shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me” (Dan 6:22).
Jesus said unto Peter, “Come, and when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” Oh, it is comforting in our darkness to see Jesus, even though it be but dimly, and then to hear His voice. Surely it is the voice of our Friend, the voice of our Beloved; I shall not sink, I shall not perish, Jesus is coming; and as veiled in the obscurity of our night He approaches, we long for yet more assurance that He is our Savior. Is it thyself that cometh to me? If it be so, bid me come unto thee, and I will, tread everything beneath my feet with thee. Jesus said, “Come.” That one word is sufficient. It is His voice. Christ’s voice strengthens us, put away all our misgivings, all our unbelieving fears; it allures us, we are drawn forth to Him with steps of faith that work by love we come out of the tempest-tossed vessel and walk upon the water to go to Jesus. How many steps did Peter take? While his thoughts were taken up with Christ, he walked in the darkness upon the troubled sea. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, saying. Lord, save me.” Ah, the boisterous, the angry billows have distracted Peter. He is not thinking of Jesus now, and he begins, to sink. Then he remembers Jesus again, and cries unto Him, “Lord, save me.” What changes! Faith and unbelief. Walking upon the waves, then he walked no longer, not another step toward Christ, but he is sinking down into the tempestuous sea. But poor, sinking, perishing Peter cries, “Lord, save me,” immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Christ is near the sinking one; His arm is not shortened that it cannot save. His saving, almighty arm reached into the uttermost to them, “He took me, He drew me out of many waters” (Psalm 18:16). It looked as though Peter’s faith was great when he stepped down out of the ship and walked in the darkness upon the sea. But the wind blew in his face; yes, he had to face that boisterous windy storm, as he walked, he was buffeted by the wind; he was afraid. Ah those fears! “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” Those doubts have made his legs feeble, and he cannot walk another step upon such a sea. Jesus caught him saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Jesus knows his name, Jesus saves Little Faith; and Jesus, holding his hand, Little Faith walks with his Savior upon the waves into the ship.”
“And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship, came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. I am sure that Little Faith was far from all fleshly boasting about his walking on the water, but all his boasting concerning this exploit was in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The humble hear this and are glad. O child of God, are you in straits, in afflictions, temptations? The Lord knows the way that you take and when He hath tried you you shall come forth as gold, and though you feel alone, and that yours is an isolated case, and in your sighings, you are saying, No man cares for my soul. Nevertheless thy covenant God careth for thee. He will know thy soul in adversities (Psalm 31.7).
FREDERICK W. KEENE
OLD FAITH CONTENDER,