Keep Your Eyes on Jesus. By Reverend Andrew C. Smith, Jr.

Good morning Holy Angels,
Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Many passages in the Bible give us encouragement when we are going through trials and tribulations.. Obviously God intended that the writers to include these passages in the Bible to give us courage in our storms.
For example, in the book of Isaiah we read, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; stop being anxious and watchful, for I am your God. I give you strength, I bring you help, I uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isa 41:10)
And in the Book of Romans we read, With God on our side who can be against us? Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph by the power of him who loved us (Rom 8:31-37)

In today’s gospel the disciples suffered a crisis when they thought they saw a ghost walking towards them on the lake (Matt 14:22-33). They did not cope well with their crisis; they were terrified and cried out in fear. Peter also endured a crisis when he began to walk on the water and felt the force of the wind and took fright. Jesus addressed both of these crises. Firstly to the disciples Jesus said, “Courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matt 14:27) Then to Peter after rescuing him Jesus said, “Man of little faith why did you doubt.” (Matt 14:31)

When troubles come our way we often forget that God is still with us. It is strange really, but that is what happens to so many people when they get upset. They think God has gone on a vacation or that God is a dead beat parent who does not uphold his commitment. But that is not so. God is still with us.

Jesus helping the disciples on the Sea of Galilee in our Gospel was not just an event that happened once in the past. That event was included by Matthew in his Gospel to teach us that Jesus is with us as a Church and as individuals in every trial. Just because as a Church and as individuals we endure a crisis it does not mean that we have been abandoned by God. God is with us especially when our faith is tested. The words of Jesus in the Gospel are words that he addresses to men and women in every trial, “Courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”

Trials are an opportunity to grow closer to God and if we don’t learn our lesson from a trial the first time it comes I would not be surprised if God were to allow the same or a similar trial to come our way again so that we learn the next time and grow closer to him. So when a trial comes our way some of the questions we can ask ourselves are, “Are you trying to say something to me, God, during this trial?” “What are you trying to teach me during this crisis, God?” “What do you want me to learn, God?” Someone has said that when a trial comes our way we should milk it for meaning. Trials are opportunities if we want to succeed spiritually and really grow close to the Lord.

Keep your eyes on Jesus! Remember, it is when Peter took his eyes off Jesus that he began to sink!

Christ’s peace,
Fr. Drew