Matthew 14:22,25,27-31 – Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the crowds. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come". So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (NRSV)
While on vacation recently, our family rented a cottage right on a lake. Imagine our surprise and pleasure when, one morning, we saw a mother merganser swimming along, trailed by ten little ones, all swimming in a line. We watched as the mother ducked down under the water and came up again about five yards further along. Immediately, the babies ran across the top of the water to her. They then swam along a little together before the whole thing was repeated. This continued happening until they were out of sight. Each time, the young walked quickly on the water. It was the natural thing for them to do, and it showed faith in their mother, who was caring for them so well. They never showed the slightest bit of fear, even though we were nearby, and some of the children were playing along the water's edge. The mergansers saw their mother, trusted, and went right to her, running on the water, in spite of this.
How very different this was from St. Peter! Until he began to doubt or fear, he was walking on the water. After that, he sank, and Jesus pulled him on board with these words: "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Isn't this just the same with us? We say we are Christians, believers, and we are. But when the going in life gets tough, our faith is tested, and often we find that our faith is not as strong as we thought it was. Fear can do this to us. We begin to fear rather than trust Jesus, and, as we do, we begin to sink under the waters of life. We are beset by waves of depression, despair, cynicism, helplessness, or even addiction. We seem unable to trust Jesus' promise as fully as we want to, although we believe that Jesus walks beside us.
Jesus does come to our aid, maybe not as we expected or hoped, but, when it happened to me, I could just hear him saying, "O you of little faith. Why did you doubt?" May we trust more, especially in the face of fear, so that our fears will not sink us, and we will come through with a faith that is strengthened by our experience. We need to remember that we are never alone, and Jesus' hand is outstretched to us always.
Prayer: Holy and gracious One, it is so easy to know your presence in our lives when things are going well. Forgive us that, when things seem fearful, we are not able to trust as much as we want and you desire for us to do. Strengthen our faith, we pray, so that, even in the blackest of times, we can see your light glimmering ahead of us, giving us hope and eternal guidance, so that we stay on the top of the waters of life. Amen.