A lesson in dealing effectively with problems can be found in the story of Peter walking on water.
The story of Peter walking on water towards Jesus Christ is one of the most famous stories in the Bible about faith. It all happened on a night when the sun had just gone down and the disciples had been sent to cross the Sea of Galilee by Jesus. He was to meet them on the other side, and when they reached about the middle of the sea, a strong wind and storm suddenly began. Jesus Christ had just come down from the mountain at the shoreline after praying to God, when He began walking towards the disciples on top of the water. Since the disciples were in the middle of the sea, he would have walked about four miles when he came near them. In fear of what was lying before their eyes, the disciples cried out at what they thought was a ghost. But Jesus Christ quickly responded to them in assurance that it was Him and that they had nothing to be afraid of.
Still unsure that what he was seeing and what he was hearing was true, Peter said to Christ, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And Jesus said to him, “Come.”
So Peter stepped out of the boat being tossed by the waves and walked on the water towards Jesus. The threat of the waves all around him had soon become his main focus, and at the moment he began to fear, he started to sink. Peter cried out for help, and Christ immediately saved him and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:21-34).
In reflecting upon the question that Jesus Christ asked, our instructor of the harmony of the Gospels class at Ambassador Bible Center taught us a lesson to be drawn from this story that I will never forget. He said, “We tend to spend a lot of time focusing on our problems and surroundings—and not the solutions” to those problems. He continued his lecture with an illustration of a two-step principle that we can apply in our lives to help us grow and develop in our faith today when we are faced with problems and difficult times. Sometimes there are solutions within our own reach, but there are also times that looking to Jesus Christ in faith is the only thing we can do. The principle he outlined helps determine how best to move forward.
Identify the Problem
Using a one-hour time block as an example to illustrate the principle, the first thing to do is to spend five to 10 minutes to stop and deeply think about and identify what the difficulty we are facing is. This is a necessary step to take to examine ourselves and see where we let avoidance, excuses and fear stand in the way of improving the situation and ourselves. It is also necessary for clearly identifying and determining the entirety of the issue and its complexities.
I find that the best way for me to do this is to sit down and write—especially when I am not really sure why I feel distressed. I start by asking myself a series of questions. Then I answer them as truthfully as possible. Questions such as: What has happened? How does it make me feel and what is my attitude? What am I thinking? What did I say? How did I react and treat others, and how did they react to me?
After doing this exercise, I set my paper aside and pray to God. In my prayer I share with God where I am and humbly ask Him to show me where I can find answers.
Focus on the Solution
For the next 50-55 minutes, spend time exploring possible solutions and weighing them against the problem. This carries the mind from negative thinking to positive thinking on how to improve the situation and move forward, instead of dwelling on what is past.
I find what Isaiah wrote to be a sobering yet comforting reminder about God. It says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). As I meditate on this, I am filled with awe of how much greater God is than I am. He has the right perspective, and He is so much greater than anything I am going through.
So I open my Bible.
I turn my paper over and start to ask the questions I asked myself before, but this time I let God show me how He sees what happened through His eyes. For example, I ask questions such as: What does God think and have to say about the situation I’m in at this moment? How does it make Him feel? How does He want me to act or respond? I also ask Him to give me discernment to understand what I can do and what I cannot do, as well as the courage to accept it if the only thing I can do on my part is have faith in Him as He works with the situation. If I’m honest and have patience, He answers. And He always gives me the real solutions.
Often, when we read the story of Peter walking on water, the problem that Peter had in his lack of faith is our focus. But that was not the resolution to His troubles—or the end of the story. After Jesus Christ’s lesson about faith, He and Peter returned to the boat where the other disciples had been watching this miraculous and incredible series of events unfold. When they stepped into the boat, the winds stopped and “those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33)! Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Rock on whom we place our faith, was the solution to Peter’s problem all along.
In unsettling times of troubles and difficulties—when the storms of life surround you—keep your eyes on Jesus Christ. Let Him show you the solutions and continue to walk on the water towards Him in faith.