"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest."
"Be of good cheer; it is I--be not afraid." Matt. 14:27
It surely was an exceptional season of fear and unrest
with the disciples, that night-storm on the Sea of Galilee.
The saddest feature of the moment was that faith--the
strong resolute faith of other times--had now deserted their better natures.
They could see nothing but perilous environment, the surging billows and the
darkness--for "it was the fourth watch of the night," about three o'clock,
when the gloom was deepest, and no flush of morn as yet had tinted the wild
hills of Gadara. Strangely different from their experience on a former
occasion! He was then with them. Though asleep on "a coil of ropes for His
pillow," He was there. They had the comfort of His Presence. They could
awake (as they did awake) the weary slumberer; and the voice of the God
within the toil-worn man rebuked the waves and turned the storm into a calm.
Now it was different--their despairing monotone rather was, "How has He left
us at the moment we most needed Him?" "Surely the Lord has forsaken me, and
my God has forgotten me!" No, more, when He at last appeared on the crest of
the waves, instead of recognizing Him with a shout of adoring welcome, they
in their superstitious fear imagined that a demon of the deep, an apparition
premonitory of death, had come from the spirit-world. Their cry was a cry of
To such unworthy turbulence and misgiving truly they need
not have given way. We know from the context where He had been all night--on
some adjoining mountain engaged in prayer--engaged in prayer for them,
watching through the darkness their tempest-tossed bark, in sympathetic
touch with their palpitating hearts, and eager to speak His word of power.
At last it is spoken. He who comes down from the mountain oratory to tread
the waters, pronounces His gracious rest words--the reassuring "It
is I" (literally, I AM). It is preceded and followed by "Fear not"--"Be
not afraid." There can be no mistake. "O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong
Lord like unto You? You rule the raging of the sea--when the waves thereof
arise, You still them."
It is a parable of profounder spiritual realities. In the
unrest of the soul, amid the swirls and eddies of life's ocean, Jesus comes
to His people--most often, too, when darkness is deepest. The sensible
tokens of His love and mercy seem withdrawn. In their misgiving and
incredulity they wail out the plaintive cry, "Where is now my God?" He
seems, in accordance with the narrative of the storm, "as if he would pass
them by." "My way is hidden from the Lord, my judgment is passed over from
"Be still!" Let patience have her perfect work. He will
in His own time and way change the storm into a calm. We are, alas! often
ourselves responsible for our unworthy despondencies. We turn our backs to
the Sun of Righteousness. There is a shadow projected, but that shadow is
our own. We conjure up some phantasms of unbelieving doubt. We say, like the
disciples, "It is a spirit," and we "cry out for fear." Let us look away
from ourselves, the surging waves and billows within us and around us, and
keep the unwavering eye of faith on Him who is waiting to give rest to the
weary, and peace to the troubled, and hope to the desponding. To revert to
our figure, He has His Hospice built at every turn of the perilous way. He
fences it with these same two buttresses--"Fear not; IT IS I; be not
"O Redeemer! Shall one perish
Who has looked to You for aid?
Let me see You, let me hear You,
Through the gloomy midnight shade,
Utter You Your voice of comfort–
'It is I; be not afraid!'"
In all time of our tribulation He will be true to His
promise--"I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor
him." As the Hospice is most valued by the tempest-beaten traveler, so every
trial is a fresh reason for resorting to "the Refuge from the storm, the
Covert from the tempest." And when the last trouble of all, the hour of
departure arrives, the Hospice-gates will be opened by the Divine Promiser
of Rest, and the triplet-comfort fall for the last time on the ears of the
weary and heavy laden– "Fear not; it is I; be not afraid."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12