Courage in the Darkness

Footsteps of Jesus
Matthew 14:24-27 (New American Standard Bible)
The boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

The disciples encounter another storm while crossing the water in a boat. This storm seems to be even more dangerous than the last. We’re told that the wind was “contrary” (Greek anemos, “from all directions”). It is very hard to direct a boat with unpredictable winds and waves assaulting it from all sides! And while the disciples had witnessed Jesus’ power and authority in calming the last storm, this time they’re on their own. Jesus wasn’t on board.

Things come to a head during “the fourth watch,” between 3 and 6am. Have you ever noticed that everything seems to be worse in the middle of the night? Those hours before the sun comes up — in the quiet and the dark — that’s when many of us lie awake, stare at the ceiling, and worry about what is happening in our lives.

But then, suddenly, in the midst of the chaos and darkness, the disciples see a person literally walking above it all — above the waves and the turmoil. And Jesus tells them: “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (New Living Translation).

Psalm 139 reassures us: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to you.”

So, take courage! In the midst of the darkness, in the middle of the sometimes chaos of our lives… Jesus is there.

What is it that you are most afraid of right now?

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