Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
Then He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. Matthew 14:22-24
Good morning Prayer Team!
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and venture to the other side of the lake. Then He went up by Himself on a mountain to pray. The boat holding the disciples, meanwhile, was caught in a storm, beaten by the waves. It must have been a terrifying scene for the Disciples.
If Jesus knows everything, and knows events before they happen, He knew that there was going to be a storm. He didn’t tell the Disciples to stay on land in order to avoid it. He allowed “nature to take its course”. Jesus, however, did two things for the Disciples during this scary time. He prayed for them. And then He visited them. He walked on the water and came to them.
There are storms in every life. Sometimes the storms are quick, sometimes they last a long time. Sometimes the storms are annoying and sometimes they are really damaging. There are two things to remember in the storms of life. First, the Lord looks down on us from heaven. He knows our storms. And secondly, because He loves us, He visits us in various ways. He is not necessarily going to come to us like a ghost walking on water. However, He comes to us in other subtle ways—a burst of confidence, an extra bit of strength, a clear mind that can see things it otherwise wouldn’t see. I’ve definitely been in situations that are stressful and chaotic and all of a sudden a calm will come over me and I’ll be able to see and to know exactly what to do. I attribute that to God visiting me in a storm.
Sometimes God comes to us through other people, who not only bring encouragement but who bring answers to problems that plague us. Examples of this include firefighters who comes to the rescue, or doctors who come with a good diagnosis or teachers who take that extra time with our child.
When praying to God during a stormy time in life, the prayer isn’t necessarily for God to take away the storm, but to walk with us in our storms. There are certain things that plague each life—it might be a medical condition, an insecurity, worry about our children, challenges in our marriages, or the stress of trying to get it all done. If God takes every challenge away from every life, then we are reduced to robots. This is why God doesn’t solve all the problems of the fallen world. In the things that plague each life, we can invite the Lord to walk with us, in order to strengthen and comfort us, and we can ask for God to send the right people into our lives to help us in the storms. And we can be assured that He will watch over us in our storms and give us the strength to endure them.
Lord, thank You for walking with me in my life, in good times and in bad ones. In the good times, help me to always remain humble and glorify You with gratitude. During the storms, help me to always trust that You will watch over me and protect me. Help me not to get discouraged. Surround me with people who can help me in those times of need and sadness. Help me to know that Your will governs all and that even when I’m not sure of what is happening, that there is a Divine purpose for my life. Continually reveal Your purpose to me. Watch over me in my storms, and smooth the waters of the seas of my life as it is Your will. Amen.
If you are in a storm today, trust God. If you are on calm waters, help someone else who is in a storm.
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