“Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27) is the reassuring salutation that Jesus said to His disciples as they laboriously rowed “in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves” (Matthew 14:24).
Peter was so emboldened by these calming words from Jesus that the following verbal exchanges and miraculous events occurred: “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased” (Matthew 14:28-32).
Being Disciples of Jesus Christ
As my wife and I pondered these verses, we considered what we could learn about discipleship from the Savior and Peter.
First, Jesus speaks words of comfort; He did not want His disciples to fear Him. Next, the directive to “Come” is a calling to “follow me” (Luke 18:22). We are to strive to emulate His example and be like Him in everything that we do. In our darkest moments, we must learn to pray as Jesus did: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
Peter shows that miracles can occur for us—he walked upon the water. As his eyes looked away from the Lord, Peter saw the tempestuous waves surrounding him, lost faith, and began to sink. As soon as Peter called for help, however, the Lord lifted him, encouraged him to be more faithful, and together they returned to the boat walking on the water.
Christ stilled the storm for all of the disciples so that they could row to a safe harbor. A key lesson is that a disciple can “do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). This rescuing and strengthening can occur even when we face immense physical or social ordeals. No matter how difficult our trials, Jesus Christ will reach out, help us find ways to carry on, and save us.
Hearing Words of Faith
As we reflected on the scriptural lessons taught to the disciples and especially to Peter on the Sea of Galilee, powerful memories flooded our minds. A number of years ago, our family seemed to be rowing against tempestuous waves of medical infirmities and psychological despair. These were times when we frequently felt a sense of hopelessness for our future.
We were lifted out of seas of depression, however, by words of comfort and faith. We were listening to October 2006 general conference when we heard Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin speak.
He reflected on the deaths of his father, mother, sister, and dear wife. These were great sorrows that gnawed at his soul. In spite of those personal losses, Elder Wirthlin testified: “Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.” Elder Wirthlin went on to conclude: “We will all rise from the grave. And on that day my father will embrace my mother. On that day I will once again hold in my arms my beloved Elisa. Because of the life and eternal sacrifice of the Savior of the world, we will be reunited with those we have cherished. On that day we will know the love of our Heavenly Father. On that day we will rejoice that the Messiah overcame all that we could live forever. Because of the sacred ordinances we receive in holy temples, our departure from this brief mortality cannot long separate relationships that have been fastened together with cords made of eternal ties. It is my solemn testimony that death is not the end of existence” (“Sunday Will Come,” Ensign, Nov. 2006).
Jesus Christ Reaches Out to All
Because of Jesus, all will be resurrected—“in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Jesus Christ is literally the Savior of all mankind. As He did for Peter, Jesus will also reach out and lift up His disciples to exalting glories. No matter what trials come our way, may we ever be ready to sing the words penned by President Gordon B. Hinckley in “My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns. 135):
Oh, give me thy sweet Spirit still,
The peace that comes alone from thee,
The faith to walk the lonely road
That leads to thine eternity.