The Fourth Watch

In my personal studies this morning, I came across the story of Jesus walking on the water. Most of us know how it goes. It’s one of my favorite accounts in the New Testament because there are so many things we can learn from it. It starts in Matthew 14, verse 24…

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

The night was split into four watches, with the fourth being the last. The fourth watch was between 3 and 6 am. These are the hours just before the sun rises, and usually the darkest hours of the night. Often we find ourselves in these situations. There is a storm around us. The wind is howling in our ears and the waves are tossing us around. It’s dark and we can’t see a way out. Things seem like they can’t possibly getting any worse; this is when Christ comes. We must always have patience and endure through our trials. Continuing…

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

Christ will always make Himself known to us by the Holy Spirit, and His message is exactly what He said to the apostles: Be of good cheer. Be not afraid. We need not be afraid of the storm when Christ is with us.

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

Peter, with his usual impulsive nature, asked the Lord if he could come onto the water with Him. Obviously this was quite a show of faith, and something that Jesus clearly did not overlook. He allowed Peter to step out onto the sea. For some amount of time, short or lengthy, Peter’s faith held strong and he was able to walk across the waves just as he could see the Master doing. But then Peter made a grave mistake.

Rather than keeping his eye on the Savior, he allowed himself to become distracted by the storm around him. He saw the waves crashing and heard the wind howling. He let fear take hold of him. His faith wavered and he started to sink. As the waves began to overcome him, Peter most likely returned his gaze to Jesus and cried out to Him for help.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

The key word here is immediately. The Savior did not hesitate, but instantly grabbed hold of His disciple, saving him from the storm.

Just like Peter, we often allow adversity to distract us, keeping our minds away from the One who matters most in our lives, our Savior Jesus Christ. We begin to sink beneath the waves. Thankfully, it is at this point we may have the sense to call upon Him whom we’ve lost sight of. His hand reaches out and we are once again saved from the storm. If we don’t call upon the Savior, the water may rush into our lungs, choking us, exhausting our bodies and minds, and eventually may drown us.

Perhaps that sounds a bit pessimistic, but really this is a story of good news. Just as the Savior said, “Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid.” Jesus Christ is there for us. So long as our eyes are on Him, we will be able to tread across the waves and endure the storm around us. We aren’t perfect though. There will be times when our trials get the best of us, when we lose sight of the Savior and we begin to sink. But so long as we remember Him and His atonement, and cry out to Him to save us, He will always reach out His hand to us and bring us out from under the waves.

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