The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear. 

–C. S. Lewis, A Grie Observed

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. – Matthew 14:25

In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples being tossed around by the wind and waves in their boat on the Sea of Galilee. Then Jesus came, walking on the water, as John says, “in the fourth watch of the night. “

The fourth was the last watch of the night, just before dawn. At this point in their journey, the disciples had likely been battling this ferocious storm in the darkness for close to nine hours. Doubtless they were weary of both body and soul, their hands bloodied and blistered from clutching for dear life to ropes and oars. Perhaps, as happened on another occasion, they had come to the point where they thought they were going to perish. It was at this point, when the night was the darkest and hope was at its lowest, that Jesus came to them.

Why did Jesus wait so long? Why didn’t he arrive at the first watch, or the second, or at least the third? Did he not notice the storm? Was He not aware of the danger his followers were in? Couldn’t he hear their cries of fear and desperation?

I suspect it was for none of these reasons. Jesus was fully aware of what was happening and knew precisely what He was doing. A more likely explanation for his apparent delay was that it took until the fourth watch for the disciples to come to the point where they could completely trust in Him. Up until this point they had been relying on their own resources and skills to ride out the storm. It wasn’t until they had exhausted all of their own strength and resources that they were finally ready to receive Him as their rescuer.

I think the same principle often applies in our lives as well. Lifeguards say the hardest person to save is a drowning person, because in their panic they fight against their rescuer. It’s only when they grow so weary and exhausted, they can no longer resist that the lifeguard can pull them back in to safety. In the same way, it seems that sometimes God allows us to get to the end of our rope so we will finally cling to Him.

As we pass through the storms of life, at times it can seem as though Jesus is far off or inattentive or indifferent to our peril.  More likely He is waiting for us to say, “I can’t row another second. I can’t go one more inch in my own strength. Please, Jesus, help me! Rescue me!”

When we reach that point, He has promised that even if it requires walking on water, He will come and save you.

Even if it is the darkest night, the fourth watch just before dawn.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Michael


Be sure to check out this article in our full newsletter from December 2020 - Click Here!