Charles Allen, in Victory in the Valleys, tells a cute story about 5-year-old Johnny helping his mother make supper.
At one point, she asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup.
“It’s dark in there and I’m scared,” Johnny objected.
After repeating her request and Johnny continuing to express his fears, she said, “It’s ok, Jesus will be in there with you.”
Hesitantly Johnny walked to the door, slowly opened it, peeked inside, and saw it was dark. He started to leave, but suddenly got an idea and said, “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”
Almost everyone possesses some phobia. It may be fear of spiders, snakes, heights, dogs, injections, or storms.
Matthew records an instance where the disciples found themselves afraid in the midst of the storm. Like Snoopy often wrote in the Peanuts cartoon, “It was a dark and stormy night..”
Suddenly, while crossing the Sea of Galilee in a little boat, about 3 A. M., they saw Jesus walking on the water. Fearfully, they first cried out “It is a ghost.”
“Take courage. It is I,” Jesus responded. “Don’t be afraid.”
Peter in his typical impetuous manner asked Jesus if he could walk on the water. Jesus said, “Come.”
However, as Peter walked and saw the boisterous wind, he became afraid and began to sink. “Lord, save me,” he cried.
“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
There are some really important lessons here regarding faith, fears, and doubt.
(1) The fruit of faith.
While Peter is often disparaged, remember this, he did walk on the water. He believed he could because he knew Jesus could grant his request. So Peter walked on the water.
While none of us will walk on the water, we can do great things for God. We need to believe we can. Then ask the Lord. Through faith, God is “able
to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).
Think big. Trust God. Launch out in faith.
(2) Fear makes faith flounder.
Peter’s faith quickly faltered when he became afraid. He took his eyes off Jesus. The howling wind in his ears and the lashing sea around his feet caused him to fear. When his faith wavered, he began to sink.
Fear is one of the great enemies of faith. Fear breeds anxiety and worry. It undermines our confidence. Creates confusion. Gives birth to disbelief. And it will spiritually sink us.
There’s much in our wicked world today that can cause us to fear. In fact, it seems some people are intentionally trying to stoke our fears to their political advantage. We fear for our safety. For our children. For our nation. For the future of the church. For our ability to remain faithful. And for our very lives.
Over 300 times in the Bible we read the warning “fear not.” Don’t allow fear to creep into your mind and heart. But, if it does, immediately call on the Lord. Peter didn’t wait until; he was drowning. He sought help when he was sinking. And so should you.
(3) Doubt causes us to distrust.
“Why did you doubt?” Jesus asked Peter. It’s a good question. Peter had witnessed the miracles of Jesus. He knew His divine power. He saw him walking on the water. And Peter even walked on the water.
But that’s what doubt does. It causes uncertainty. Leads to indecision. Breeds apprehension. And results in skepticism.
If we’re not careful, we’ll take our eyes off Jesus and listen to the enemies of Truth. The atheist, infidel, and unbeliever ridicule our faith. They doubt the existence of God. They belittle the Bible. They disdain and deride Jesus. Many of the critics of Christianity are educated men and women. University professors. Authors. And scientists. But they are wrong. Like the Greeks of old their erudition has lead them away from the simplicity of the gospel.
I like the saying, “When doubts arise. Don’t doubt your faith. Doubt your doubts.”
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Listen to Him. Don’t doubt.
(4) When faith falters, come back to Christ.
There’s more to the narrative that we sometimes miss. Jesus calmed the wind. They got back into the boat. They came to Christ. Worshiped him. And said, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Peter didn’t allow his momentary lapse of faith created by fear and doubt to cause him to quit. And neither should you. Jesus has a hand out calling you to “come.” Release your fears. Recant your doubt. Refocus your faith. Return to Him. And render Him worship worthy of His Sonship.
And remember this. “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms His child.”
Regardless, in your darkest night of doubt and fear, Jesus says, “Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman