Some weeks can be hard right? As far as church planting weeks, this has been one of my toughest yet. We have experienced a legal threat that will require us to change our name. We have heard the news that our lease won’t be renewed therefore we must hustle to find a new location in a city not known for affordable buildings. Those bits of information came in within 24 hours of one-another.
Maybe you have encountered some tough news recently…maybe you have asked yourself this question – “Where is God in the midst of my struggle?” Especially for those of us that follow Jesus and that serve Him in ministry, it is natural for us to hope for a smoother trail. Fortunately, as I was encountering this ‘hard week’ I was studying my preaching text for this coming Sunday. I have been leading our new church through the Gospel of Mark. Read the text with me:
Mark 6:45-52 (ESV) – Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
These men had been in the boat with Jesus before. They had felt the comfort of knowing He was right there. They had seen Him work mighty miracles. However, they were now in the boat by themselves and they once again encounter the wind and the waves. The journey across the sea becomes difficult. Where was Jesus while this was happening? He was watching them from His perfect viewpoint on the mountain. This is a great comfort for us! God is not unaware of our circumstance? He is not uninterested in our plight.
It brings me great peace to know that Jesus put His disciples in the boat. That wind and those waves were something that Jesus wanted them to encounter without Him being physically present! Why? That’s how we grow in our faith.
The Sea in this Bible text serves as a picture of the Christian life today. God is present. God sees. God comes to us in our need. Yet, in many ways, He places us in the boat and on the sea. He has shown us how to go out without Him being physically present with us (Mark 6:7-13). The disciples had experienced that short-term trip so that they would learn how to trust that ‘He is with us always’.
On the fourth watch, Jesus came to them. They had to endure the sea and the struggle for a season. We may think that God isn’t with us because we don’t feel Him. We may think that God is absent because He has not yet come to our aid. God IS with us. God does know the details of our life. In His Time and in His Will He does come to us in our time of need. If our faith can grow when He feels distant then our joy can grow when He feels close. Even better, as our faith grows we recognize that God is always with us and always close no matter how we may be feeling. No matter what your ministry challenges are you can trust that God sees and knows. Encounter the waves and the wind knowing that truth!