“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid”

Matthew 14:22—33

PASTOR GERMAN NOVELLI-OLIVEROS

If you know the story of the sinking of the Titanic, or at least you watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie, I’m sure you’ll remember how this terrible accident began, in which more than 1,500 people died.

The Titanic, the world’s largest ship in those days, was trying to cross the ocean from Europe to America in April of 1912. However, at some point in its journey, the giant and modern boat crashed into an iceberg.

Although the captain tried to turn, in order to avoid the accident, the truth is that they realized very late what was happening. In the film we see how the man in charge of the watch could only see the tip of the huge mass of ice floating in the sea, and when he alerted others about this fact, the boat could not change the direction in time, and the rest is history.

Today, I wanted to recall the accident of the Titanic, to talk a little about the problems that we often face in life, because I think that sometimes we sink into the cold ocean of sadness and despair because of our problems.

People sometimes tend to be very fatalistic. Often we believe that it is the end, that we can never overcome a situation of life, a problem, or an illness. There are people who love to say things like: “there’s nothing I can do”. .. “everything is lost” … or “this problem has no solution.”

And we end up like the Titanic … sunk … in the depths of the ocean.

“Oh! My head hurts … I’m sure it’s cancer.“ Sometimes we hear this from the mouths of fatalists, yet there’s still no diagnosis, not even a visit to the doctor.

I know that life is a very difficult pathway, in which we find problems that overwhelm us, situations that lead us to be sad and depressed, and labyrinths in which we very easily get lost. Sometimes we hit an iceberg, and if we do nothing, if we do not act, if God is not present in our hearts, we will sink.

What can we do?

Perhaps, this morning’s gospel could help us to understand a little bit more the importance of having Jesus in our lives, especially in the moments when we think that everything is lost.

The text shows us that Jesus sent his disciples in a boat so that they would sail -during the night – to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Meanwhile, Jesus wanted to be alone to pray, so He went to a mountain to do it.

Early in the morning, the disciples were still in the boat, fighting against the strong winds and the great waves of a storm, and Jesus appears before them walking on the sea. Obviously, after seeing this, the disciples were filled with fear, and Jesus said to them:

“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid”

Peter, (many of you know the bold and explosive personality of Peter), told Jesus that he wanted to go to where he was … “I also want to walk on the water!” . . . .  And Jesus just said: “Come.”

The gospel says that: “…when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  

Peter had the courage to jump into the water, and to walk on the sea, and putting his eyes on Jesus, he was able to take some steps … but fear came… then, some doubts … and he sank into the sea, until Jesus reached out his hand, and helped him to come out from the water.

I think that many of us, in facing the problems of life, resemble Peter. We are like him!

Jesus invites us to walk on the waters, to do the most difficult thing which is to follow him, to experience the Christian life, faith… and then, as we move forward, we let ourselves sink by fears, doubts, and problems.

If you look at what happened to Peter that day, it is that Peter -at some point- took his eyes off Jesus, and he paid more attention to his fears and doubts, and to the steps he took on the sea.

When we struggle with all these fears, with all these doubts, with all our problems, we can not take our eyes off Jesus, because we are going to sink more and more as Peter did. We need to set our eyes on Him!

Life is hard, full of challenges and temptations, full of moments in which we doubt or moments in which to believe and to follow Jesus become almost impossible … moments in which we sink or are overwhelmed by problems.

Sometimes, it is our sin and its consequences the things that overwhelms us and make us feel bad. This often breaks our hearts, and leads us to hurt those we love and who are around us.

But Jesus is still there … and this is what I want you to remember every day of your life … Your Savior is there, standing in front of you, telling you all the time: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

The paths of life are very difficult … full of sadness and situations that disappoint us … of course there are joys and good times, but there is also pain, crying, and problems that lead us to sink in the cold ocean.

Today we see how families are sinking into arguments, lack of love, and divorces … today we see how the society in which our children are growing is sinking into violence, drugs, and wars … today we see how our bodies sink because of illnesses and depression.

But do not be afraid … God is with you! Walking with you! Comforting your heart whenever you are sad! Inviting you all the time to not be afraid.

He leads you, through faith, to set your heart, your mind, and your eyes always on Jesus. He is your Lord, the Savior of your life, who makes all things new, who gives you a new day everyday, and the One who promises for you forgiveness, new and eternal life, and salvation.

Never forget that on the cross, He decided to sink into the deep ocean of the sins of all mankind … in His death, Christ faced the storm of our failures, the storm we deserved … He sank so that we would never sink.

And this same Jesus is the One who tells you this morning, and every day: Come to me! I’m waiting! Do not have doubts, do not be afraid! Walk on the waters of your problems and sins! … He tells you that in Him we are more than conquerors, and nothing can separate us from His love, and from the salvation He gives us.

Before our sins, Jesus takes our hand, bringing us to his forgiveness … before our problems, Jesus takes our hand and offers himself as our solution … before our lack of faith, and our doubts, Jesus takes our hand and gives us His Holy Spirit, who leads us to believe in Him, and to trust in his power. We will not sink like the Titanic, but we will cross the storm and all the seas with the power of God, our captain!

In this life there will always be problems, temptations … more than once we will fail God … and we will have to cry out as we sink, just as Peter did: “Lord save me!”

Call on Jesus, and He will always come to your help. Jeremiah says it loud and clear: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Dear friends, take it for granted that on the day of trial, on the darkest night, Jesus will take your hand, and He will bring you back to new life, and will tell you: Do not be afraid, do not have doubts, because I am here for you, I love you, and I have come to save you. Amen

 

2017-08-24T14:02:12-05:00