"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze"
What’s your ice breaker fact about yourself? You know, the fun fact you pull out when you meet new people or take part in those ice breaker activities that everyone loves at training or team building events. One of mine is this: I nearly drowned in a ‘puddle’ when I was around 2 years old. The story goes like this…
When I was around two and half, I went on a trip to the beach with my Nan and Grandad. According to Grandad I was merrily skipping along ahead of them and suddenly disappeared. One minute I was there, the next I wasn’t. All Grandad could see was my hair quickly sinking into a pool of water. It turns out, earlier in the day someone had dug a rather large hole, which had been filled up by the tide. What appeared to be a mere puddle on the surface was in fact a lot deeper and more dangerous than first expected. Thankfully, my quick-thinking Grandad lunged forward and grabbed my ponytail, pulling me to safety. Apparently, as he pulled me gasping and spluttering from the water, the first words from my mouth (before I’d even fully caught my breath) were “Grandad, don’t you ever pull my hair again!” Isn’t that gratitude for you? My toddler brain could not comprehend the significance of what had just happened. I couldn’t see the bigger picture that my Grandad had just saved my life. All I could focus on was that he had pulled my hair (and pulling hair was not kind!).
This story reminds me of Peter in the Bible. He was mid-miracle, walking on the surface of the water, yet he took his eyes off the big picture. He stopped looking at Jesus and all that he knew Jesus to be capable of and instead looked around him at the wind and the waves, at which point he started to drown. Jesus was right there, just as my Grandad had been, and as Peter started to sink beneath the surface, Jesus immediately reached out and pulled him to safety (although I don’t think it was by his hair!).
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Peter had been a follower of Jesus for some time by this point. He had seen him do countless miracles, even raising people for the dead. In fact, earlier in the book of Matthew a nearly identical situation had occurred; the disciples were on a boat, a large storm had swelled, the disciples had become afraid, and Jesus had rebuked the winds and waves, which immediately obeyed him and became calm (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus even chastised the disciples for their lack of faith in this situation asking the same question he later asks Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
How many times in the midst of difficult situations do we forget all the times God has come through for us in the past? Instead of trusting Him, we panic or even get angry at Him. We take our eyes away from Him and focus instead on the situation around us. We wonder why He would allow us to be in this situation. But God never promised we wouldn’t go through tough times. In fact, He promised the exact opposite: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). He also promised, however, that we would not go through it alone and gives us reason for our courage when we face this trouble, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We will all face difficult times, in fact many of us will be facing some right now. Whatever it may be, take heart (be encouraged, have courage) for God is right there with you. Just as he was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire (Daniel 3:25), Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6:22) and Peter in the waves (Matthew 14:31). It doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult or even painful at times, but it does mean we are not alone - we can come out the other side with Him stronger and having learned through the experience, and even closer to Him as a result.
So, when you pass through the waters or walk through the fire, remember he will be with you.