Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7
About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.
In the evening the disciples went down to the shore of the lake and got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the lake. It was getting dark by now and Jesus had still not rejoined them. The wind was strong, and the sea was getting rough. They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat. This frightened them, but he said, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’ They were for taking him into the boat, but in no time it reached the shore at the place they were making for.
It is I. Do not be afraid.
Lately, in the course of my work, I discovered something about myself that I had not noticed before. I had to coordinate a number of events, and a couple of slip-ups by the other people involved sent me into a state of blind panic and extreme irritation. The thought of not being able to complete the task crowded out everything else in my mind. As I reflected on what I said and did during those times of panic, I was surprised at my own uncharacteristic behaviour.
The miracle of Jesus walking on water is one of the most well-known stories of the bible. In their fear and panic, the disciples of Jesus failed to recognise him as he walked towards them on water. Their fear of the boat capsizing eclipsed the trust they should have in their master Jesus. Interestingly, this happened right after Jesus performed the miracle of feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. The fact that they witnessed the miracle with their own eyes was seemingly not sufficient for the message to sink in.
Fear is an emotion that defies any conscious control of the will. It cannot be beaten down or removed, and a lot of times it paralyzes us and prevents us from acting when we ought to. What can we do about it? We can find ways to deal with it and endure it. It is not easy, and like people who need to overcome their phobias, it requires a great strength of will and a firm trust that God will lead us through it.
“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NRSV)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for a firm faith to overcome the fears that keep us away from you.
Thanksgiving: Lord, thank you for helping us to endure trials beyond the ability of our own strength.
Sun, 08 May – Acts of the Apostles 2:14.22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35; Third Sunday of Easter