“He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” Ps 121:3-4
At the time of writing this devotional, I am in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic and on lockdown in Mossel Bay, South Africa, thousands of miles from home on the Isle of Man, with no plan on how to return. I arrived almost two weeks earlier than my original booking, on a new ticket which I bought last-minute. A couple of days after getting here, the government banned all international flights and closed the country's borders. Another week later, the country went into full military lockdown. My life, like so many of us in this season, is a little stormy right now.
In Matthew, Mark and Luke's gospels, we see the story of Jesus sleeping in a storm as He and His disciples are crossing a lake (Luke 8:22-25). Jesus and His disciples were headed across a lake in a boat. Jesus took the time to nap onboard. Whilst they were out on the lake, a storm arose and began to look perilous to the disciples who became fearful and woke Jesus asking, "Don't you care if we drown?!". Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and then turned to his disciples and asked, "Where is your faith?".
By the time we read about the disciples in the storm with Jesus, they had already been following Him for some time; they had witnessed Him heal people and even the raise the dead to life. The disciples had seen Jesus in action for other people, but when it came to their own crisis they doubted.
In another stormy story much later in Jesus' ministry (Matthew 14:22-33), Jesus instructs His disciples to sail over the lake without Him. While they are out, another storm arises. Jesus walks across the water towards them. In verse 26, we see that the disciples were again, fearful. This time because they had seen a ghostly figure walking across the waves. By now, the disciples had spent even more time in Jesus’ presence, yet they still felt fear. "Do not fear" Jesus said as He approached. Emboldened, once of the disciples, Peter, asked Jesus to let him walk out and join Him on the water. Jesus told Peter to come so he climbed out and began walking toward Jesus. All was well as the winds raged until Peter began to fear the situation. Doubt crept in, then *splash* Peter began to sink.
Fear is an emotional reaction to a situation. It brings along with it the temptation to doubt. When we fear, we can often feel doubtful or insecure in what the future holds, losing our footing on the security of God our rock (2 Samuel 22:2). The disciples fell into this trap during the first storm - "Don't you care if we drown?" But Jesus instructs them to reflect on where their faith is; who are they putting their trust in? Similarly, when Peter began to sink, he cried, "Lord, save me!". Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand, helped him to the boat and asked, "Why did you doubt?". All the disciples worshipped Jesus saying, "you are the Son of God". They then understood where their faith was and who it was in.
We have only a fraction of the story of what God is doing both in and through our lives. We have to apply faith over fear to our situation, believing our God is watching over us and preventing us from stumbling. Paul writes in Romans 8:28 that, "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him" (NIV). God knows what's best in all things, and in all things, it is best to bring Him glory.
Many of us have had our plans completely upturned recently. I had planned to come to South Africa to attend my wedding ceremony. Instead, I find my wedding cancelled; stuck in a country on military lockdown with no way home. Others find that their businesses are struggling or that they can't see loved ones. I don't know why I've been placed where I am right now but there is so much else I don't understand either and that's alright. The Lord is alert. He knows my situation. He knows your situation and He is working it for good – He is the rock on which you can trust. He is watching over you.
Today, let's faith our fears together with Him.
• Remind yourself who your faith is in and declare it boldly in scripture and prayer
• Write down or maybe even draw something to remind you of a time when you asked God to step in, and His glory came out of it.