The episode of Jesus and Peter walking on the water illustrates how we often live our lives. After sending the disciples in the boat to cross the lake, Jesus sent the crowds away and retired to a mountain to pray. In the middle of the night, as the disciples were struggling to cross against a contrary wind and waves, Jesus began walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Jesus, they assumed he was a ghost, but Jesus reassured them, telling them not to fear and to have courage. However, Peter called out to him saying that if it truly was him to call him out so that he could walk to him on the water. Jesus commanded him to come, so Peter stepped out of the boat and began walking to Jesus. While Peter looked at Jesus, he walked on the water, until he began looking at the waves all around him and he began to sink. When he cried out to Jesus to save him, Jesus reached out and pulled him up, asking him why his faith was so little.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to live our lives in communion with him; however Jesus warned us that we would encounter tribulation, literally pressure in our life, but to take courage, because Jesus has overcome the world. Courage is what Jesus tells us to have and it is what he told the disciples to have that stormy night. As long as we practice what Jesus said, that we trust him and exercise courage as we daily live with him, we are fine. However, we tend not to do that, we tend to look at the problems, or the tribulation as Jesus put it, and we become anxious. We begin running all kinds of “what if” scenarios over and over in our minds and our anxiety increases. This is what Peter did as he walked on the water, he began looking at the waves, which in this case was his problem, and he began to consider what might happen to him. Then he began to sink. That is also what happens to us when we begin to focus on the problems around us. Our problem is not really the problem itself, but our focus is misplaced. It is not that we are unaware of the problems, rather we don’t focus on them. Instead we keep looking to Jesus and expecting the solution to come from him. As we learn to live in this manner, anxiety is greatly reduced in our life. More than that, the more that we mature to the point of actually believing what Jesus said, our trials can become points of excitement as we see them as opportunities to see Jesus’ power revealed in the solutions to those trials.