“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him…” (Mt 14:31)
Many times in our lives we undergo hardship and struggle in our academics and spirituality. Maybe we are under economical stress or going through relational rifts, and when we pray, it all seems meaningless because Jesus doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers.
Where is Jesus when we are in trouble?
Peter’s experience on the water shows us that Jesus does reach out His hand immediately to help us when we are in need, even though there may be distractions that keep us from reaching out and grabbing His hand. Just like how Peter decides to go to Jesus, we must also do the same to go to Jesus. If we have the heart to want to be helped, Jesus will help us.
When Jesus reached out to Peter, there were two sets of hands: Jesus’ hand and Peter’s hand. Peter cried out for God to save him, and Jesus reached out first to catch his hand. This is a two-way relationship. Although we might be afraid of our surroundings or we might be sinking too deep in the world, we have to remember that our solution and priority is Jesus.
There was a period of difficulty where I doubted God’s existence, and why He didn’t seem to help me when I needed Him. In my junior year, I had many bad habits and struggles that prevented me from achieving good grades and a good relationship with God.
I had addictions of all sorts, and the first thing I thought of was to find ways to stop my addictions rather than praying about them. During this time I only prayed in church and only when my parents asked us to pray together. My heart felt empty and I did not know where else to turn, thinking that I had already prayed and it did not work.
It wasn’t until I went to the Elizabeth SSC in 2009 and fasted and prayed that I started to change. After this SSC I started to evaluate my past mistakes and realized that Jesus’ hand was always reached out to me, but I didn’t grab it because I didn’t see it. It was like I was stuck in a deep, dark pit—unable to get out to reach for His outstretched hand. I realized that my bad habits were holding me back and magnifying my doubts.
To turn my relationship with God into a two-way relationship, I had to hold up my end of the bargain by building up good habits to replace old ones, including reading the Bible, praying, and going to church. As simple as that sounds, there are many things in this life that hold us back from really putting these healthy habits into practice. After that SSC, I took it upon myself to seriously study the Bible. While there is still so much I do not understand, I discovered that God’s words are really sweet and inspiring.
When Jesus caught Peter’s hand, He instructed Peter about his weakness. Similarly, every message from the Bible is Jesus reaching out to us and teaching us, and we need to respond by applying His teachings into our daily lives and nurturing our spirituality to grow.
In order to have a fruitful two-way relationship with God, we need to constantly meditate on God’s word and pray so that we are ready and prepared to reach for His hand when we meet up with trouble. Like Peter, who had simple faith to obey Jesus’ command to go to Him, we also have to have simple faith when we are in trouble. And having simple faith means holding out our hands for His even when we are not sure.
Just as Peter’s reaction to sinking was to call out to God, we should also remember to call out to Him. Our relationship doesn’t stop at asking God, but should strengthen as we listen to God and carry out His commandments.