If you have failed, then you’re in good company. History gives us plenty of examples of those who tried many times to succeed but initially failed. Einstein failed at math before he discovered the theory of relativity. Michael Jordan failed to make his high school basketball team before he became a star member of the NBA. And Steve Jobs was once fired from Apple, only to come back in one of the most amazing turnaround stories in American business.
One of the most well-known stories (and maybe one of the most misunderstood) in the Bible reveals an element of failure – a spectacular failure. I’m speaking of the story of Simon Peter walking on the water.
I admire Peter. Even when he messed up, his failures were spectacular. No other apostle has more recorded words in the Gospels than Simon Peter, and no one is rebuked more often than Simon Peter. Yet I still admire him, because it always seems that his heart was in the right place. He just went about things in the wrong way. If you are going to fail, let it be like Simon Peter. He learned from his mistakes.
As the story opens, Jesus had just fed the 5,000, plus women and children, with five loaves and two fish. Then he dispersed the crowd, put his disciples into a boat and sent them across the Sea of Galilee. But as they made their way across, the disciples found themselves in the middle of an epic storm.
Then the unthinkable happened:
About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:25–27 NLT)
The moment Peter saw the Lord, he knew everything would be all right. So he did something unbelievable. He said, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water” (verse 28).
Some have criticized Peter for this, saying it was presumptuous. How dare Peter do such a thing? But let’s wait a second. Peter asked permission first. And Jesus gave it. So Peter threw his legs over the side of the boat, put his full weight on the water, and began to do the impossible.
But then he began to sink. Why? Verse 30 provides us with the answer: “But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink” (NLT). Or, as The Amplified Bible puts it, “But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened.”
Faith gave way to fear, and trust gave way to worry. Where faith reigns, fear has no place. But where fear reigns, faith is driven away. Fear is a powerful and very real emotion that can overtake you. Peter was sinking because he took his eyes off Jesus. Yet Peter cried out to the Lord, and he answered Peter’s prayer, reached out and saved him.
Like Peter, we need to call out to the Lord in our times of trouble. Maybe you are in a storm right now. Maybe you’re wondering why this is happening. Just cry out to him. God has a plan. It isn’t random. Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). And the verse that follows it completes the thought: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (verse 29).
God’s big picture for you is to make you like Jesus. Whatever you go through in life is either done by or allowed by God for his eternal purposes. We look at the temporal; God looks at the eternal. We look at the small picture; God looks at the big picture. We look at the here and now; God is looking at the by and by.
Sometimes, like Peter, we will take a bold step of faith and walk on water, so to speak. But then we start to sink. Are you sinking right now? Is your life filled with worry, defeat, or fear? You might feel reluctant to cry out to God, but that is the very thing you should do. Cry out to God, and he will be there to rescue you.
Jesus won’t force his way into anyone’s life. So if you want to stay in your storm, you can stay there. If you want to stay in your place of misery, you can stay there. If you want to try to get yourself out of the storm using your own ability, go ahead and give it a go. But if you want God’s help, then you need to cry out to Him. That is what Peter did, and Jesus heard his prayer. He will hear your prayer as well, because the Bible says that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Hardship will come into the life of every person, and that includes Christians. We can learn through these storms and experience great victories in our lives. And the good news is that storms don’t last forever.
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