Anxious Days Anxious Nights
Christ reaches out to you with hope and healing.
IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT that you’re out on a walk in the middle of a cold January day, when suddenly the sun breaks through a heavy winter sky and warms you. You still need a coat, but you pause to turn your face toward the sunshine. In this moment, you realize the serenity surrounding you. There’s nowhere you need to be other than right where you are. There’s nothing pressing that must be done. No one is calling out to you, asking for your help or opinion. There’s just the warm sunshine and a stillness that settles deep into your spirit. You can feel Jesus close. You’re sure it’s all going to be OK. You’re confident that no matter what comes next, you can trust that the same God who warms you in winter will guide you through every uncertainty up ahead. In this moment, you feel total peace, and it fills you.
If I’m being truthful with you, I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve felt total peace like this memory of a winter walk. A private beach, a quiet car ride, sitting on my back deck in late fall, the stillness of a nursery with a sleeping baby — these moments are preserved in my mind because they’re each unique. Most of my days are spent perhaps like yours; I bustle from one moment, one task, one urgent need to the next until all of my hours have been spent, and I am entirely drained as I collapse into my bed. Peaceful isn’t how I would describe most of my life.
As a matter of fact, as a homeschooling momma of three and a full-time business owner, I long for peace, but I always seem to be chasing after it. I wonder if you can relate. Maybe you aren’t homeschooling. Maybe your children are grown and the school years are a memory now. Maybe you don’t own your own business either. I won’t suggest that I know the order of your days, nor will I try and compare them to mine. But I have a suspicion that even if the details of our lives are unique, you and I are still very much the same.
We both carry responsibilities that can feel weighty. We’re both walking through a world which often seems uncertain. We’re both doing our best to follow Jesus, trusting Him with each step and decision. And more than anything, we want the peace of God to reign in our hearts and our homes as we make our way forward.
In the last year, so many of us have redefined peace as our chief goal. Are there other achievements or ambitions that we’re still pursuing? Of course! But deep within our hearts, more than anything, we want the return of peace. We want the storms around us to still. And we want the sun to come out and shine on us and those we love once again.
I think often of the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-33. You likely know this story. To summarize quickly, Jesus sent His friends across the sea in a boat while He remained on shore to pray alone. As a momma, I feel as though I can relate to Jesus’ need for a moment of solitude. But back to the story. It was windy that night and Jesus’ friends hadn’t made it far from shore when He came to meet them, walking on the water. Peter called out, “Lord, if it’s you … command me to come to you on the water” (v. 28). Jesus then told Peter to come. You probably remember what happened next: Peter climbed out of the boat and began to walk, but his walking turned into sinking. “Lord, save me!” Peter cried (v. 30). Jesus reached down and pulled Peter from the waves and together they climbed into the boat.
I have so much compassion for Peter. We have the privilege of reading this story from the safe side of the boat. We know the ending. We know that Peter was saved, the winds stopped, the sun rose, and they made it to the other side of the sea. After a tumultuous voyage, there was suddenly total peace. But Peter lived this moment. He experienced all of it. And while we often focus on his sinking and try to use this story to remind ourselves to be full of faith despite the storms of life, I find myself relating to Peter’s fear. Peter had likely been through storms like these before, but never this way.
During Uncertain Times
For many of us, we’re facing a unique season where the wind and waves are raging, and we don’t feel the safety of the boat beneath us anymore. Sure, we’ve experienced life’s storms before, but like Peter, maybe we’ve ridden through them rather than walked through them. Maybe you feel like it’s just you and Jesus out on the water and you’re doing your best to be brave, but more than anything you want Him to command the sky to be still.
Many of us have been learning this last year that peace isn’t just the absence of the waves or the winds, but rather the presence of Jesus in the middle of the storm. Peace isn’t just what we feel when the sky clears and the sun rises, but rather peace is the presence of the One who commands the sun to rise and who also calls us safely forward even before the clouds break. Peace hasn’t left us and He won’t. It’s a promise He made.
In John 14:27, just before Jesus left his friends to go to the cross, He told them, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” Jesus would send His Holy Spirit to comfort and guide and direct in His absence. He would return to His Father, but His peace would be available to us in the form of the Holy Spirit. The question now remains: How can we daily experience His peace in the middle of uncertainty? How can we use the gift of His presence even when the storms refuse to still? Peter’s encounter teaches us three lessons on experiencing peace.
First, we lock eyes on peace Himself. Next, we listen for His voice. Finally, we keep taking steps toward Him right across the void of uncertainty.
Matthew 14:29-30 says, “And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid.” I’ve read this passage many times and always wondered how you can see wind. I suppose you can see the effects of the wind on the waves. You can see how the environment around you is responding to the storm. The same is true for us. No matter what your storm is, whether it’s something many are experiencing or something that’s taking place within your family, the effects of the storm are easy to see. The stress, the tension, the short-tempers or lack of sleep — the daily impact of the storm in your life can be so distracting from Jesus, who is right in front of you. As we journey forward, aware of what’s happening around us, we remain focused on what we know is true. Jesus comes through for us and our families. God is our Healer, our Protector, our Deliverer, our Shield, and our Strength. Even before the winds cease, we focus on His face and listen for His voice.
It was the voice of Jesus who called Peter out of the boat. Peter stepped out from the single word from Christ, “Come” (v. 29). It’s not as if the water beneath Peter was supernaturally stronger when he stepped out of the boat. It was the word from Jesus that held Peter by faith. When the winds become loud, it can be hard to hear Jesus. We must stay tuned into His voice. He hasn’t stopped leading you or directing you, and His Word is still strong enough to hold you. Take just a moment to listen. What is He whispering to your heart even now?
Finally, we must keep taking steps toward Jesus, redefining what we consider peaceful. We can be full of peace as we walk through every dark night. We can be full of peace when the bills aren’t paid and we don’t know where the money is coming from yet. We can be full of peace as we get the doctor’s report or the news report or the school report. Because with each step we take by faith, we’re remembering who Jesus is and promises to be in our lives. He is the Prince of peace and He is with you even now.
Friend, you’re a person of great faith not because you never feel afraid, but because you keep walking toward Jesus even when you do feel afraid. We cherish the moments the sun shines on us and we feel warmth settle into our spirits. But our faith is strengthened when the world rages on and we recognize that we aren’t defined by what we feel. We’re carriers of peace in every season and every storm.
Becky Thompson is the bestselling author of Love Unending, Hope Unfolding, and Midnight Mom Devotional. She also shares hope-filled truth through her top Christian podcast, Revived Motherhood. Speaking to the struggle of balancing life as a wife, mother, and daughter of God, she has become the voice of modern Christian motherhood. Becky lives near Nashville with her husband and three young children.
This article originally appeared in HomeLife magazine (January 2021). For more articles like this, subscribe to HomeLife.