Caught Between Faith and Doubt
From Matthew 14:22-33 – Then He made the disciples get into the boat and precede Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. After doing so, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening He was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, He came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to Him in reply, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did Him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
This scripture reminds us of our weakness to be easily distracted, which can cause our faith to waiver. Are we more like Peter, ready to ask God to use us, or are we more like the other disciples who sat in the boat watching to see what would happen with Peter? Peter stands for every disciple in every age, caught between faith and doubt. He believed in the presence of Christ, yet his faith wavered.
In the struggles and complexities of life, it seems natural for Christians to seek signs of God’s presence and of God’s will. Yet the true Christian challenge is to believe in the presence of God precisely when it is least discernible. Peter’s challenge to Christ came not from a strong faith in Jesus, but from the sad reality of “little faith.” The Christian cannot walk on water, and is not meant to do so. But God does empower every disciple to believe against the odds, to face the struggles, and to mature and grow in faith in the process. The essence of Christian life is not signs, but faith. The desire for signs does not originate from God. Yet it is precisely from instances of little faith and sin that Jesus is prepared to reach out his hand and catch the waverer.
In the Christian journey, Jesus invites disciples to follow. In this incident, Peter took the initiative. Interestingly, Jesus accepted his challenge in order to underline for Peter, and for all subsequent believers, the meaning of deep faith.
Faith doesn’t save us from trials and tribulations; what it does is give us strength to face them. The person who has faith has a source of strength and inspiration, especially when trouble strikes. It’s not we who keep the faith – It’s the faith that keeps us.
No one’s faith is perfect. If we ever have a doubt like Peter did, we need to talk to Jesus about it. Mark 9:24 says, then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Just like Jesus reached out His hand and grabbed Peter to keep him safe, He is that close to us, and He will help us too.
The truth is, lots of situations are too big or too scary for us to handle, but nothing is too big for Jesus! We shouldn’t focus on the situation we are in. Instead, we should focus on the One who has power over every situation! In Verse 27, Jesus tells us like He told the disciples; “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Our faith will be strong when we keep our eyes on Jesus. When we know Jesus, we know He is completely deserving of our trust. When we keep our focus on His power and His love for us, our faith will be strong.
Final thought: “We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.” – St. Francis De Sales