This Week's Message
Take Courage

A storm at night casts angry shadows on the walls of the bedroom.  The youngster in bed hears the wind whining outside, the bushes rustling and the tree branches rubbing against the side of the house.  Imagination runs wild with all sorts of scary notions of unknown things about to envelope and destroy any hope of happiness or a good night’s sleep.  Suddenly a bright flash of light illuminates the room and a deep, loud “boom” shakes the house.  The youngster cries out, “Help!” as a light in the hallway clicks on.  Dad and Mom peer into the dark bedroom and inquire, “Are you alright?”  “What are you scared for?  We’re right here.  Don’t be afraid.  Go back to sleep.”  The hall light goes dark while the wind and sounds of the night continue their frightening battle.  But the youngster, reassured of the parent’s protective presence, gently falls into restful sleep.   

Scripture is full of instances where angels from God announced their news beginning with “Fear not.”   The Lord came to Joseph in a dream to assure him to “not be afraid” to marry his betrothed, for the child to be named Jesus “would save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). 

When Mary was confronted by the angel Gabriel, the soon to be expectant mother of our Lord was given the assurance, “Fear not” (Luke 1:30).  The shepherd abiding in the fields at night over Bethlehem were stunned by the angelic hosts one winter’s night (Luke 2:10).  Before the angel’s “tidings of great joy” the shepherds were assured that they should “fear not.” 
Now the disciples are at sea (Matthew 14), way off shore, late into the night, rowing against the winds.  And during the wee hours of the morning, just before dawn, there appears a figure walking upon the waves, approaching their wind-swept boat.  Needless to say, they are frightened out of their wits!  In their fright and with imaginations running wild, they didn’t recognize their Lord and Master Jesus coming to them, walking on the water.  His coming to them like that defied all logic.  But immediately He calls out to them, “Take heart.  It is I.  Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). 

Incredibly, Peter questions Jesus, answering Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (v. 28).  And Jesus graciously says, “Come.”  Peter steps out of the boat upon the water and approaches the Lord.  But the winds and waves turn his attention from Jesus, and he begins to sink.  In his desperate fright, he cries out, “Lord, save me!” (v. 30).  And immediately, Jesus reaches out His hand and catches Peter, and gently chiding him, says, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31).  And helping him into the boat, the wind stopped blowing. 

All on board the boat now recognize Jesus differently than they had before.  Somehow the feeding of the 5,000 hadn’t sunk in as to His divine powers.  But now, having done the seemingly impossible, walking on the waves, they recognize Jesus for who He truly is, and worship Him, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). 

Like a frightened child on a stormy night, we too are helpless when confronted by the random frights which seek to distract us from our focus on our Lord and Savior.  We begin to sink in despair and hopelessness and we cry out in panic for help.  And like the parents who reassure the frightened child that they are there and that there is no need for fear, our Lord assures us to “take heart” and that He too is always present and that we need not fear.   He assures us that He is more powerful than our worst nightmares.   Our Lord gives us lasting assurance that He is with us always, till the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  We take courage, for He walks on the water, and we walk by faith.