Why are we so surprised when God comes through? Isn’t that who He is? Isn’t that what He does? It’s almost as if we don’t really think He’s listening when we whisper our heartfelt prayers to Him in the night. It’s almost as if we don’t really think He cares or would work on our behalf. It’s almost as if we don’t believe He could.
And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. | Mark 6:47-52
I’ve been sitting on this passage for months now. Verse 52 is where I keep getting hung up: “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”
I keep asking myself, “What did they not understand? What were they supposed to understand?” Because I’m sure that if they were supposed to understand it, I’m supposed to understand it too. So I kept reading these verses and the passage preceding it over and over again. I kept praying, asking the Lord to help me understand that which the disciples had missed.
What is it, Lord? What is it that You want me to take away from this? What are You trying to teach me?
I eventually paused my study of Mark and moved on to some other portions of Scripture, frequently visiting these verses to see if anything had changed – to see if I had come to understand something new and amazing, to see if I had made some remarkable discovery in His Word.
What I’ve come to learn (and re-learn) is this: Sometimes what He wants us to understand is exactly what He has said to us in His Word. No digging required. Just right there on the page.
Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.
Could this be what He wanted the disciples to understand? Could this be what He wants me to understand?
In verse 48, we see the reason the disciples were having a rough time on the sea was because “the wind was against them.” As hard as they tried, the disciples could not overpower the wind. It was too strong for them. They may have maintained their position, but they surely weren’t getting anywhere fast. Verse 48 says, “they were making headway painfully.” In the middle of these windy seas, Jesus took note. He saw them in their struggle. And what did He do? “He came to them, walking on the sea.” He saw them. He came to their aid. But He didn’t stop there. He reminded them of who He is. He reminded them that because He IS who He says He is, there was no need for fear.
The same is true for us, beloved. In the midst of our storm-tossed lives, Jesus takes note. He comes to us. He reminds us of who He is. He reminds us there is no need to fear.
Isn’t it interesting that the wind didn’t cease until Jesus got on the boat with His disciples? When we invite Him into our lives, into our circumstances, into the messy, broken places of our hearts, that is when the storm is calmed. His peaceful presence is what silences the howling wind.
Again, I fall back to verse 52: “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” The disciples had just witnessed Jesus feed more than five thousand people. In the midst of a need of massive proportions, Jesus Himself came to the rescue.
Is it not so for us? Perhaps what the disciples failed to understand about the loaves is that JESUS provides fully, totally, completely, solely. Perhaps what we fail to understand is that Jesus is still in the business of providing for His children – fully, totally, completely, solely.
We read in verse 51 that the disciples were “utterly astounded.” They had been living with and learning from Jesus for some time now. They had witnessed Him perform incredible miracles day in and day out. And yet here they were, “utterly astounded” that He had come through for them – AGAIN.
When we pray and ask the Lord for His deliverance, do we believe He will indeed deliver us? When the storms of life threaten to pull us under, do we give in to fear and doubt the Lord can and will rescue us? When we are struggling in more ways than we can even count, do we trust that our God is the One in charge? That He is sovereign? That He is able? That He sees us? That He hears us? That He cares?
The disciples were a long way off on a boat in the middle of the sea. Jesus was up on a mountain fully occupied in prayer. And yet He took note of these twelve feeble men painfully struggling out on the sea.
Why are we surprised when this great, eternally faithful God of ours comes through for us, time and time again? Our God knows, He sees, He hears, He cares.
His desire for us is simply that we would hear these words and believe them: