Why did Jesus walk on water to the disciples in the boat? Did he want to scare them? No, his first words to them were “Do not be afraid.”While they were being tossed by wind and waves, he showed them that he was not affected by the storm. If they had had faith, they might have realized that if Jesus was safe, they would be, too. We too must make that leap of faith, especially when we are afraid.

Peter seemed to be willing to take the leap as he stepped into the water. But when his attention was distracted by the strong winds, he began to falter. This is where we can apply the story to ourselves.

Our growth in faith is not a steady progression. For every two steps forward, we may take one step back. For example, we receive God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation and rejoice in God’s loving mercy, but later we fall back into sin. We ask God’s help in prayer and when our prayer is answered, our faith in God grows. Then we become ill or wreck the car, and think that God has abandoned us. But isn’t that a natural reaction?

It is natural to doubt God in times of trouble, but we are choosing to live in the supernatural when we become followers of Christ. Like Peter, we need to keep our attention on the Lord. As long as Peter looked to Jesus, he could walk on water. Only when he focused on the wind did he loose his nerve and begin to sink.

In a similar way, we can lose our focus on the Lord. We see someone we love who is gravely sick. We make a serious mistake that gets us in trouble. We lose our job and have no leads to a new one. We are frightened by news of terrorist activity. These seem more real than faith in an invisible God. That is when we must remember that true faith allows us to believe when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Faith tells us that though apparently invisible, God is more real than anything we can see. Remember Jesus on the cross saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Father never abandoned his Son and God will never abandon us.

-Tom Schmidt