My version of “This or That” today isn’t going to be about staying in or going out, being a night owl or early bird, texting or calling, hot Cheetos or Takis, gym rat or couch potato, Dad’s favorite or Mom’s favorite; and the list goes on and gets creative! No, today’s version is going to explore two stories in the Bible about being trapped in a storm. One version teaches us to rebuke it, and the other version tells us to walk through it. Let’s dive in.
Matthew 8 (NLT)
23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
Matthew 14 (NLT)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[b] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
If you skimmed over the scriptures in the two separate stories of Matthew above, I highlighted the key, distinctive points that differentiate the struggle of the storm. Two severe storms came and two different actions were taken. In Matthew 8 we read that the storm came on “suddenly” and Jesus was fast asleep. This wasn’t one of those cat naps where you can still hear the tv, but the kind that startles you half to death at 4am when your child sleepwalks in your room and just stares at you until you wake up. The disciples had to wake him up “shouting” it says, “Lord, save us, we’re going to die!” Dramatic much? (But let’s be real, that would have been me too. 100%.) First, he points out their lack of faith. Then he REBUKES the storm. “Ain’t nobody got time for you” is probably what he thought. Done, calm. The disciples were amazed. In Matthew 14 however, it says, “Jesus insisted” aka nicely commanded the disciples to get into the boat and take the journey ahead of them. Then skipped out of the boat ride himself, and went his separate way to pray and be alone with the Father. When the disciples were “far away from land” they realized, “we’re in trouble”. Do they go back, or do they continue? Well, this time Jesus was not in the boat to rebuke the storm. Would it be better to just go back to land? The reality must have been that they were far enough that turning back to where they came from probably wouldn’t have helped. Plus, Jesus told them to get on the boat and meet him on the other side. So they obeyed and continued on. Soon after they saw someone walking on water, we know the story, it was Jesus. But notice in this story, Jesus says “Take courage, I am here.” And then he told Peter to “Come.” A beautiful miracle happened here, where Peter walked on water! Jesus could have calmed the storm for them from the beginning, but instead, Peter walked on the raging water in the midst of the storm, and then he fell in the midst of the storm, and then Jesus reached out and grabbed him in the midst of the storm, and then Jesus calmed the storm and they continued on to the other side. How cool is that?! Amazing.
This or That? Did Jesus tell you to do something, and then it got hard, or are you walking in obedience and repentance and things get rough “suddenly”? There is a time to walk in obedience through the storm, with Jesus’ help, and there is a time to rebuke the storm with Jesus’ help.
So next time you find yourself in the middle of a hard time, a storm, think back and ask yourself is it This or is it That?
If it’s THIS and weird, annoying, awful things are coming out of the woodworks that you know you did not sow into, don’t be afraid to rebuke it! Praise God along the way but do not be afraid to tell the devil “No, I rebuke you and your plans, no weapon formed against me and my surroundings will prosper, Jesus I put my trust in you, and I know you’ve got my back as a child of God.” Then thank God for His faithfulness and for this storm to calm, and ask Him to give you peace in the midst.
If it’s THAT and you know this was a command from God, then guess what, He’s got you. Don’t be afraid, don’t go back to where you came from, instead believe and go forward. There is something majorly worthwhile on the other side of this scary thing, and be expectant of the miracle along the way!