John 15:20-21: 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
Trials and persecutions are guaranteed to the believer. In this passage, Jesus is referring to the persecutions that His followers will face in this world. He reiterates this point in the next chapter of John as well.
John 16:33: 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
How we fair in times of trouble often relates to our perspective. There is God’s perspective on the situation. And, there is our perspective. In my own heart, those typically don’t match up, and I need a mindset reset. I find the account of Peter walking on water that is given to us in Matthew 14:22-33 to be a great illustration of this concept. The disciples are out in a boat and Jesus walks to them on the water demonstrating that Jesus doesn’t bend to the laws of nature. The laws of nature bend to Him. He designed H2O, and the H and the O for that matter. Water, like everything else in the universe, bows to its creator. Peter recognizes this, resulting in an unbelievable step of faith.
Matthew 14:28-29: 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
With his eyes fixed on the Savior, Peter walked on water! We have to continually battle to not let these Sunday school stories become ordinary. There is nothing mundane about this event. Here, the miraculous becomes mundane, and that is miraculous! The account says that the water is rough and the boat is buffeted by waves. This isn’t a placid lake scene. As Peter stepped out of the boat, he would have felt the boat rocking, water spraying on his face and waves hitting him from every angle. The mist would have blurred his vision and the scene would have been terrifying. Furthermore, Peter made his living on the sea and was acutely aware of its perils. But, his focus was on Christ. And, as he put his foot down, he found that the water provided a firm platform and the laws of nature bowed to his every step. Peter was now walking on water too! But, then his humanity kicked in and his perspective shifted.
Matthew 14:30-33: 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Nothing changed in Peter’s circumstances. The only shift that took place was in his outlook. He started seeing things from his viewpoint, and not from the viewpoint of the Creator. As a result, he became overwhelmed and began to sink.
The same thing happens to me in tough situations. I find myself focusing on my circumstances and I then become very overwhelmed. But God, in His infinite kindness and tender fatherliness, has provided us with some aides for our frequently needed outlook adjustments: the Spirit of God within us and the Word of God given to us. Working in conjunction, never in conflict, the Spirit of God illuminates the Word of God, resetting our minds. Thus, we need to be a people that live in the Word of God, inundating ourselves with truth (i.e. God’s viewpoint) regularly. Then, the Spirit is faithful to hide those truths in our hearts and help us through our trials and persecutions.
A part of this story that I always find encouraging is Christ’s reaction as Peter began to sink. He didn’t just watch him recess into the black depths, nodding disapprovingly as He yelled out to the other disciples, “See what happens when you don’t have faith!” No. Jesus grabbed him by the arm and saved him.
Even when our faith fails, God is faithful. Praise God for that.
- Author Michael Green
- Date April 7, 2016