Read Matthew 14:22-31
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (NLT)
It is so easy to let our immediate circumstances overwhelm us. A bad medical report, a family break-up, a lost job, a bad investment, a car accident—such things can cause us to panic. Our life becomes dominated by circumstances. Any good news, any hope, is hidden beneath the weight of our present hardship.
That was the sort of thing that happened to Peter in this episode. It was so typical of Peter to be the one to volunteer to walk on water. His boldness was commendable. It seems he had enough faith to jump overboard but not quite enough faith to keep afloat. It seems that while he was in the boat focussed on Jesus his faith kicked in. When he was in the water in danger of being swamped by the waves, his faith sank.
Peter found it much easier to have faith when in the boat, in a position of relative safety. But our faith is really put to the test when we are under threat. Jesus will not likely invite us to walk on water. But he does invite us to follow him wherever that may lead. He invites us to trust in his sustaining power even when he allows us to experience danger and disappointment.
At such times we can choose to look at these threats or look to Jesus. In other words, we can sink or swim.