When the Going Gets Tough…

Every month at 3:16 Healthcare, we do a Bible verse writing challenge. Just a couple of verses, usually
centered around a theme for the month, that hopefully help us keep our hearts, minds, and motivation
all working in the right direction. For July, the theme was “Water in the Word”, and there were so many
good verses, but two of them rolled around in my head over and over for weeks. I knew there was a
message for me in there, so I kept going back to them until I felt God nudge my spirit into deeper
Isaiah 43: 1b-2 (ESV) says, “Do not be afraid for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you
are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of
difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fires of oppression, you will not be burned
up; the flames will not consume you.”
Then, Matthew 14 tells us the story of Peter walking on water: “But when the disciples saw him walking
on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  27  But immediately
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 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.  30  But when he saw the wind, [a]  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.” (Matthew 14: 26-32, ESV)
Peter has always been my favorite disciple. He seems rowdy and bold and spontaneous, but so relatable
in his failings and shortcomings. I have especially always loved the part of Peter just jumping out of the
boat. I have been guilty of asking God to give me a sign before I jump also…”God, if you want me to do
this, then tell me!” Jesus speaks to Peter, Peter jumps out, walks on water, and when he starts sinking,
Jesus immediately reaches down and saves him! One of my favorite works of art, and it is hanging in a
few of our offices, is a seemingly from Peter’s point of view from under the water, looking up towards
the sky, and Jesus is there, his hand breaking through the waves, reaching down to rescue him. (Or
rather to rescue me, as I imagine it!)
But the part of the story I have never really enjoyed, if I can be completely honest, is how Jesus seems to
scold Peter afterwards, calling him “you of little faith.” It’s a fun phrase to use sometimes in life when
people doubt you or bet against you, but in this story, I’ve always wanted to tell Jesus, “Hey man, there
are 11 other guys in that boat who were just too chicken to even try! At least Peter jumped out and
tried to come to you!”
I just could not quit thinking about these two sets of verses, and just felt somehow that they were
connected, that God wanted me to understand these together. On the way to church one Sunday
morning shortly thereafter, I was talking to David and the kids about it and it hit me like a ton of bricks!
God doesn’t say “if” we face challenges but “when” we face challenges. He will never leave us; we WILL
walk through fires, but He will NOT let us be consumed by them. And it occurred to me that Peter only
sank because he took his eyes off Jesus. So, the moral of the story must be that when the waves of life
come at us, we have to put our eyes back on Jesus or else we’ll sink!

I went on to tell my family how I always felt it unfair how Jesus scolded Peter after he saved him
because at least he had faith enough to try and was bold enough to go! And what my husband said next
stopped me in my tracks. He said, “I just heard this from an unlikely preacher this week. “Little” doesn’t
always mean a small amount, “little” can also mean short, or in this case, short-lived.”
Maybe Jesus wasn’t really scolding Peter for not having enough faith, as I had always thought, but
maybe He was telling Peter his bold faith didn’t last LONG ENOUGH!
Perseverance. That’s what those two days of verses were trying to teach my heart!
Friends, hard times WILL come our way. It’s unfortunately part of life until Jesus comes back to make all
things new again. We live in a sinful, broken world full of sinful, broken people. Even those of us who
mean well will still screw it up regularly. Sometimes the pain lasts for more than a day; the weeping is
still there in the morning. The heartbreak is so deep it feels hopeless. You have worked so hard, but
you are so tired…the fires just keep burning around you and you want to give up. (I’ve been walking
through a trying season myself; that’s how I know this message was for me, but I hope it helps you too!)
But there Jesus is…. crossing through the storm, quieting the wind and waves, bending down to reach
for you through those waters. Grab His hand. He is always quick to save. And if we keep our eyes on
Him always, if we never look at the wind and waves crashing around us, but focus on what He has
before us, straight ahead into his purpose for us, the next step closer to Him…. well, I believe we’ll walk
on water!
Hang in there! You have been called by name. You have been ransomed for a high price. You are His
precious child, and He will always been close by to help you.
Jesus loves you, and I do too!

Dr. Allison Key