Many of Jesus’ miracles occurred near the Sea of Galilee, a lake in Israel that is prone to unexpected storms. One evening, He and His apostles got into a boat and went to the other side of the lake. A windstorm struck the lake, and the waves swept over the boat, filling it with water. Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping on a cushion. The apostles were afraid for their lives, and they panicked.
“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ ” (Mark 4:38-41)
On a later occasion, Jesus sent His apostles by boat to go ahead of Him and cross the lake. He went up on a mountain alone to pray, and when evening came, He was still there. Meanwhile, the apostle’s boat was in the middle of the lake, and a strong wind was blowing. Jesus could see them in the boat, rowing hard against the wind (Mark 6:48). Shortly before dawn, He came to them, walking on the water. The men were terrified and thought they had seen a ghost.
“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it's you,’ Peter replied, ‘Tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘Why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ ” (Matthew 14:27-33)
As I study the lives of Jesus’ twelve original apostles*, I am amused by these ordinary men; yet I admire them (except for Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus). They were Jesus’ closest followers, and for three years He mentored them, taught them about God’s Kingdom, and empowered them for ministry (Matthew 10:1-4). But like us, the apostles had to deal with fear, failure, and discouragement; they had to grow in their faith just like we do. While they were out on the boat in the windstorms, they learned things about Jesus they might not have learned otherwise. They got a glimpse of His deity when He walked on the water and calmed the wind and sea. During the storms, Jesus challenged them to look through the eyes of faith and trust Him. The apostles discovered that no matter how severe the storm was, Jesus could be trusted.
Trials and afflictions (life’s storms) are a part of life, and no one is exempt from them. The apostles have shown me that it is during the storms that I have the opportunity to exercise my faith and grow. I may not welcome them in my life or understand why they have happened, but I know they can serve a higher purpose. Through them, I can come to know my Savior on a deeper level. After all, to know Jesus more intimately is the best blessing I can receive.
*Jesus’ twelve original apostles: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Zealot), and Judas Iscariot (Mark 3:14-19).