It is I; do not be afraid.
— John 6:20
There are many things in life that can cause us to be afraid. Sometimes we have troubles with our health. Sometimes we may have to change our homes or our jobs — and we don’t always have much of a choice! Circumstances can seem to move so much faster than we can cope with, and threats to our peace, or faith, whether they are real or not, always seem so much worse once they are in ‘the news’!
The disciples were afraid when they saw Jesus walking on the water towards them — they didn’t know that it was Him, until He spoke. They heard His voice, they recognised Him, and they ‘willingly received Him’ into the boat with them.
I’m sure that you have assured friends or family with your voice before — perhaps you came home early or visited unexpectedly. It is only natural to call out something like ‘It’s me!’ You don’t have to say ‘It is me’, and then your name also, because your family and friends will know your voice.
When the disciples knew that it was Jesus, all was well. It was cold, and dark, and they had been rowing a long time and were tired, but everything in the situation changed because of the person who was now with them.
January has been a difficult month for many of us. Darkness, coldness, sickness, unexpected troubles and trials have troubled all of us in the fellowship in one way or another. But the Lord is with us. The voice that said ‘It is I; do not be afraid’ is the same voice that spoke all things into existence. The same voice that calmed the raging sea. The same voice that cried ‘It is finished’. The same voice who said, in the greatest promise I know: ‘I am with you always’.
In the best and the worst of times, we need to be close to Him, to listen for His voice and to hear His word. The knowledge of His presence and His power to change every situation is all the comfort we need.
Sovereign above the mighty flood,
The Saviour reigns, forever King;
But makes His Church His blest abode
Where we His glorious praises sing.
In gentler language, here, the Lord
The counsels of His love imparts;
Amid the raging storm, His Word
Speaks peace and blessing to our hearts.
(Isaac Watts on Psalm 29)