Jesus said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord! Save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His had and took hold of him, and sad to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I’m about to make a statement. However, before I do, I want to note that it is my own opinion, grown out of observation, prayer and my own life circumstances.
The statement is this: doubt is a requirement for faith.
Since January, I’ve been asking a lot of questions of God. Questions of my purpose, questions of His provision, questions of His timing. I made a bold move with nothing but a couple of words I “heard” and some passages in a Bible to back me up. However, this time around, I made it a point to trust God with whatever His answers would be. No, it wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.
I’ve prayed some hefty things before. I’ve seen God work miracles in other’s lives. I’ve watched provision fall at the right time. Regarding some of those prayers, though, I’ve also been sadly disappointed. Those disappointments bred this false idea that God only cared about certain things. But the more I walk this life out, the more I’m realizing, He wants me to care more about other things than I actually do.
A few months ago, this story of Peter truly pushed me over. I was about to move into my new apartment (without a roommate). I had no idea that I would be hired at NewSpring. I was in a holding pattern…waiting…and waiting…and waiting. God told me He would provide. He told me this next season would be one where I would actually see Him as the Father who takes care of me. He wanted me to understand that He is every single thing that I need. Did I believe Him? Sometimes.
Peter knew what Jesus was capable of. In fact, right before this story, he had personally witnessed Jesus take some kids lunch and use it to feed somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 people. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience, but I sure haven’t. Peter isn’t afraid of many things, but he does seem to allow outside influence to really dictate the outcome of his decisions.
Right now, I want to focus in on something that I had never seen in this story before. We know Peter got out of the boat and walked to Jesus. We know he saw the reality of the circumstances he stepped into. And we know, because of that, Peter doubted he could make it to Jesus and had to cry out for help.
Doubt caused Peter to call to Jesus.
I know Jesus asks Peter why he didn’t have the faith to believe he could make it all the way. But there’s something in me that believes He was glad that Peter didn’t make it. If Peter hadn’t looked around, if he had not doubted his efforts, he never would have seen his need for a savior.
I want to speak specifically to believers right now: I can imagine you think doubt makes you a “bad Christian.” That’s how I felt. But at the end of the day, I realized I couldn’t conjure up any amount of faith on my own to make my circumstances work out. We see the circumstances around us and it’s only human to ask yourself how you can make it out. We pray bold prayers, we ask for unbelievable things. Maybe we even take crazy steps out onto the waves of a really deep sea.
I had to be reminded that even with my best efforts I still would never accomplish anything were it not for Jesus “stretching out his hand and taking hold of me.”
Don’t look at doubt as an end. God knows we won’t ever fully understand this faith thing. That’s why I think Jesus tells us that even the smallest amount of faith (and I will infer that “small amount” is somewhere nestled amid a crap-ton of doubt) can move mountains.
Jesus is the biggest factor in the equation. He is the only thing that can take the impossible and make it possible. He is the only one that can speak to a dead man and raise him to life. He is the only one that can take a bad circumstance and use it for good. Jesus is the only ONE who can take our doubt and turn it to faith.
He stretched out His hand to us because He knew we couldn’t make it on our own. Doubt is the realization that we, in our own efforts and fallen humanity, cannot accomplish anything alone. Faith is calling out and taking the hand of the one who can.