But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."Matthew 14:27(NASB)
As the disciples struggled to keep their little boat afloat in the midst of the tempestuous storm that raged across the sea, Jesus came to them, walking on the water. They had been battling the raging storm throughout the night and they were exhausted, but it continued to lash their little boat well into the early hours of the morning, for we are told that it was the fourth watch of the night when Jesus came to them.
It was as they were expending all their physical strength to keep their craft afloat that they saw a figure of a man emerging from dark shadowy blackness and walking to them on the sea! No wonder that they all screamed out in terror, thinking it was a ghost. This was something that was outside their experience and fear was the emotion that gripped them all.
Many of these men were weather-hardened fishermen who had battled many a storm, but on this occasion they were terrified - they were all filled with fear and the Lord Jesus understood the anguish that had gripped their heart. And so He called out, giving a loving response to their prayer without any delay: "But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.'"
Did you see that? Jesus called out to them, immediately. The moment they cried out in fear, Jesus heard their distress call and straightaway He spoke words of comfort, reassurance, and encouragement to them. Christ's response to His fearful followers was instantaneous and designed to fill their hearts with hope, for He called out to them saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I. Do not be afraid."
The Lord Jesus was aware of the danger they were in but He was also concerned about their peace of mind. He cares for us as a kindly Shepherd and tends to the needs of all His sheep.
Moses told Joshua to be strong and very courageous, because the Lord promised to be with him as he led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Similarly, David told his son, Solomon, to be strong and courageous and to do the work that God had prepared for him to do. He told Solomon, "Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished." These and other examples demonstrate that courage and faith are closely linked in the life of a believer. Faith in God's promises fuels our courage, while courage is the result of trusting God's Word.
Christ was giving His disciples an important lesson in courageous faith - for He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, even to the end of the age. He has purposed to bring the work that God has determined to do through us to completion if we have courage - if we have faith, for He has promised to supply ALL we need.
What an object lesson to us all that He is never far from any one of us. All we need to do is call out to Him, and He will reply, "Take courage! It is I, do not fear." The Lord could have prevented the storm and kept the disciples safe in peaceful waters, but He could not have called out His reassuring word to have courage so as to demonstrate that He is an ever-present help in need.
He could have left them to rely on their own skill or encourage a self-generated, self-reliance that is independent of God, but He wanted to reinforce their faith in Him. He wanted to develop in them a godly courage that is fed by trusting the Lord in every situation in life, knowing that without Him they could do nothing - but that with Him at the helm, all things are possible.
And so it is with us. Troubles and perplexities rise up on every side and at times we think that we shall be overwhelmed. But we have to develop that courageous faith that knows that the Lord is near and His ear is open to our every cry - for He cares for us all.
He knows the difficulties and fears that we are facing and He is well-able to prevent every one of them, for He is the master of the creation and upholds the world in the palm of His hand. But He sometimes allows the storms to batter our lives, for He wants us to trust Him in all situations and to cast all our cares upon Him so that as we increase in faith, we depend on Him more and more - trusting in His never-failing faithfulness.
Loving Father, I want to praise and thank You for Your tender mercy toward all of Your children. As I am faced with the troubles of my life, help me to realise that no matter what happens, You are near to me at all times. You are working all things together in my life to help mature my faith. Help me, Lord, to trust You more. In Jesus' name, AMEN.