(2nd in a series for National Bible Week. A reflection on Matthew 14:22-33.)
We were expecting our fourth child, and the other kids were betting on what it would be. “Not another boy!” said our daughter.
“As long as it’s healthy,” I said.
Waiting to be discharged from the hospital, we got the word. Our little boy’s heart was damaged. We entered a whirlwind of operations, unexplained complications, and fear. Wave after wave hit until I thought we would sink beneath it. Where was God? We sought him in a solution—and failed to see him walking by us in the storm.
Matthew, Mark, and John all tell how Jesus sent the disciples out to sea one day while he climbed a mountain to pray. Evening came and a fierce storm arose. The disciples struggled in their open fishing boat, rowing hard against the wind.
Imagine how they must have felt, how scared and exhausted they must have been. But from his vantage point on the mountain, Jesus saw their distress. And sometime after 3 a.m., in those dark hours when it seems that night will never end—Jesus went to them on the water.
St. Mark tells us “he meant to pass by them” (6:48). That might sound callous to our ears, but it takes on new meaning in light of other times God is described in the Bible as “passing by.” He “passed before” Moses, who took shelter in a rock, to make himself known after the sin of the golden calf (Exodus 33:19). He “passed by” Elijah, who was running for his life, to make himself known in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:1-18). Both times, he identified himself by the name he revealed to Moses at the burning bush: “I AM.”
Jesus wants his disciples to know him! So he intends to pass by them, walking on the water. But their hearts are hard. And instead of seeing the Son of God, they think they see a ghost. They are terrified.
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid,” Jesus says. “It is I” is literally, when translated from the Greek, “I AM.” That same God who sustained Moses and Elijah is still with his disciples. I AM bigger than the storm. I AM the Word through which God made the sea. I AM God in the flesh before you. Do not be afraid!
This does not mean God will take away the storms that come your way, although he might. He might speak to the waves and make them still. He might take you to shore, as John tells us he did on this occasion (John 6:21). He may allow you to be taken to the bottom, as Jonah was—but even there, he will be with you. The Lord wants to “pass by” you, to make himself known. Lift your eyes to see the great I AM walking through the storm, calling you to ride the waves.
Ask for open eyes to see that the Lord is with you, and faith to trust in who HE IS.
Have faith that he will carry your family through the storm.
Find your story in God’s story. Read about Jesus walking to the disciples on the water, hearing it as God’s word spoken to you. Ponder what he says; reflect on how it speaks to your life; respond in prayer; rest in his love.
© 2015 Sarah Christmyer. This post was previously published as a reflection on EntertheStoryNow.com under the title, “Has Your Family Weathered a Storm?”
Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes you send us through storms and it feels like we are all alone. We get tired and panicky. We can’t weather the storm without you. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ. Give us faith and grab our hands as we reach for you. Come into our boat. Calm the storms in our minds and hearts as well as the storms outside. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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Look for these daily posts during National Bible Week, November 16-20 (links will be active after they post):
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR THE FAMILY (Series introduction and reflection on Esther)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES caught in a storm (Reflection on Matthew 14:22-23)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES who have been delivered – or who need a miracle! (Reflection on Exodus 14:29-30; 15:1-2, 19-21)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES who are asking, “Now what?” (Reflection on Luke 1:26-38)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES who pray for the impossible (Reflection on Acts 12:4-19)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES that are broken (Reflection on Luke 15:11-32)
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Download these resources from the Catholic Ministries of the American Bible Society, prepared for the World Meeting of Families. Discussion Guides relate to the Scripture in this blog post:
- Family Discussion Guide
- Parish Discussion Guide
- Gospel of Luke 22-day “Journey” – Family Lectio Divina