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Sep
27

iBelieve: When I am in Despair (part 2)

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The disciples were overwhelmed by the storm that raged around them. What did they do that helped them through their challenge?

First, the disciples saw Jesus. John 6:19 says, “They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat” (NLT). I don’t know that they were looking for Jesus, but they saw him nonetheless. Have you taken time to look for Jesus in the midst of your storm? Jesus not only came to them, he came to them walking on the waves. In Ephesians 1:21-22, Paul reminds his readers that the Father has given Jesus authority over all things, and has placed them “under his feet.” The very threat that loomed over the heads of the disciples was already under the feet of Jesus. This is why its important to see Jesus in your storm: what ever threatens your life today is already under the feet of Jesus.

Not only did they see Jesus, they heard Jesus speak to them from the midst of the storm. The first thing Jesus said to them was, “Don’t be afraid” (John 6:20, NLT). The Bible is filled with that kind of strong encouragement. In fact, one person has counted the “Do not fears” in the Bible and has tabulated 365 occurances…one for every day of the year! The problem with fear is that whatever you fear becomes your self imposed limitation. If you’re afraid of heights, you stay low. If you’re afraid of water, you stay dry. If you’re afraid of snakes, you stay indoors. Jesus first words to the tossed and tormented twelve were appropriately designed to loosen the grip of fear on their hearts.

The second word that Jesus spoke to them was, “I am here” (John 6:20, NLT). Literally in the Greek, this phrase is, “I AM!” “I AM” takes us back to the book of Exodus, reminding us of God’s self disclosure of his name to Moses at the burning bush. Moses asked, “What is your name?” God replied, “I AM than I AM.” The name “I AM” reminds disciples of all generations that God is the self existent one, independent of his creation, without need or weakness. He is above the storms of life because he is above all the universe. He has no need and he hears no threat.

The disciples saw Jesus and heard Jesus, then trusted Jesus and invited him into the boat. The story concludes with verse 21, which says, “Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!” It’s good to see and hear Jesus, but you also need to invite him into your boat! It wasn’t until Jesus came into the problem that he resolved it. Could Jesus have calmed the storm from the water? Of course! But he identified with the twelve and participated in their struggle first.

John Ortberg, one of my favorite authors, wrote, “Peace does not come from the absence of storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat.” I think that quote is telling, because many times we aren’t as interested in having Jesus on board as we are having the storm go away. Jesus got in the boat first, then calmed the storm.

My good friend Cliff Jenkins always says to his congregation, “Everyone is either coming out of a storm, in the middle of a storm, or headed into a storm.” I think he’s right. Wherever you find yourself today on that spectrum, remember the simple responses of the disciples who demonstrate how you can respond to your next challenge.

Categories : Belief, iBelieve, Jesus, John

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