It's amazing how you find new things hidden in scripture every single time you read through the Bible! This time it has been some unexpected lessons from Jesus' disciples; bear with me.
Have faith! When times are difficult Christ is still in control! In the same way that He allowed Peter to walk on the stormy sea, so Christ can lift you up above your troubles if you just have faith in Him! Do not let yourself be like Peter and lose faith; you will only slip into the stormy ocean!
When your trials seem unbearable remember that God has a plan for you in them. Romans 8:28 says “All things work together for the good of those who love God” Blessed are you who have not seen God's plan fulfilled and yet still believe! Do not allow yourself to be a doubting Thomas!
I am not questioning the truth behind the above two statements, however, God has recently shown me that they are only half of the lesson held within the stories.
As fallen humans we love to point out other's mistakes lest we ourselves appear guilty of any wrong. We love to show despair at Peter sinking in the waves while we take secret pleasure that he was fallen just like us. Thus we subsequently ignore the fact that Peter had the faith to step out onto the water at all! Sure he sank, but he got out of the boat in the first place! That is more than most of us can even claim, myself included. We cannot have the faith to stay above water if we do not ever have the faith to step out onto it in the first place. In the same way, how can we expect God to use us if we are not willing to risk the stormy waters that He may bring. Modern day Christians love our comfortable lives and don't want to risk rocking the boat with any discomfort. Perhaps the lesson we should focus on from Peter's story is not to have the faith to stand on a stormy sea, although that too is important, but to be willing to allow God to bring stormy seas into our lives in order to teach us to stand strong through them.
We love to call Christians with less faith than ourselves a Doubting Thomas. In the famous story, Thomas didn’t have the faith to believe in the claims that Jesus was risen from the dead unless he could place his fingers in the nail-holes and his hand in the spear wound in Jesus’ side. As we all know, Christ then appeared to him and allowed him to believe through sight, but blesses those who did not see, and yet still believed.
How faithless people seem to get when faced with a trial. So many Christians doubt God's sovereignty in their lives when things get rough. Thank goodness for fellow, well-meaning Christians always there to keep the faithless accountable. “You are just being a Doubting Thomas,” we love to say. And yet we forget how easy it is to forget God's sovereignty ourselves when faced with a similar situation.
We hear about Thomas and associate him with doubting, however, we don't realize that he is mentioned a few chapters before as well! As Jesus is about to go into Jerusalem for the Passover feast at the risk of being killed by the Jews, it is Thomas who convinces the other disciples to follow Jesus into Jerusalem, “that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 NIV). It was Thomas who had both the courage and the faith to follow Jesus, even to his own death!
Modern Christians love to focus on the flawed Thomas, when in reality, perhaps we should focus on the Thomas who encouraged the other disciples to take up their crosses and follow Jesus! But once again, we choose the interpretation most comfortable and convenient to us. It is one thing to call up a hurting friend on our iphone from our La-Z-Boy, and tell them to have faith; it is an entirely less comfortable message to teach that we should leave our comfortable lives and take up our crosses for Christ! The Bible never tells us the Christian life is a comfortable one. In fact Jesus tells us that no servant is greater than his master, and if the master is persecuted, so also will the servant be persecuted. Christ was persecuted beyond belief, and yet we expect that following Him will be comfortable and even easy? That's not the deal He gave us!
Rather than being as little like Thomas as possible, we should strive to be more like Thomas and take up the cross with Christ. Rejoice like Paul, for we are beaten for Jesus!
Remember this: it is easy to find fault in Jesus' disciples because the most immediate thing we have to compare them to is the blameless Jesus. Even a white piece of paper appears dirty when held in front of a pure, white sheet.
I do not seek to accuse anyone who reads this of anything that I myself am not also at fault with. These are merely my own meditations. But I pray you consider them, and spread the message of Peter and Thomas to other believers.