"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 trouble.

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 The sensible tokens of His love and mercy seem withdrawn.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 my God."

"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 afraid."

"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

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