Hope When Your World Falls Apart
Reading Time: 9 minutes
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?… Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? — Luke 15:4-8
And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. (Mark 6:47-51).
Three Things To Know About Walking On Water
In this story where Jesus walked on water, Jesus had told His disciples to gather themselves together into a boat, and then to go to the other side of The Sea Of Galilee, to Bethsaida. During that time, Jesus retired to a remote mountainside to pray. When the storm on the lake was really raging, the disciples had struggled with all their might to get the boat safely to shore, but the waves and the current were just too strong. Even thought to all apearances, they were doing everything right. At the very height of this storm; just as the disciples thought they would lose the battle with the elements, Jesus had come to them, from within the very middle of the storm, and walked on the water towards them.
The disciples were terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. As soon as they cried out in terror, Jesus spoke to them saying: “Take courage. It is I. be not afraid.” Then Jesus climbed into the boat with His disciples, and the winds and waves abated, and the waters were calm and peaceful.
There are days where I feel like the disciples. Waves of grief washing over me, and threatening to sink “the boat.”
1) being in this storm ourselves, we can realize that when we cannot see Jesus, Jesus sees us. The text regarding this story tells us that WHEN Jesus was praying; He saw the disciples straining at the oars. Even though His own disciples could not see Jesus; Jesus saw them. And this is just how my experience is. I sometimes cannot even see Jesus, not even a little bit, yet deep down, I know that Jesus sees me, even though it might not feel that way. There is no disparity between my theological knowledge here, and my personal experience. I cannot see Jesus at times; but I can know that Jesus sees me. (2 Sam 22:12)
2) When I do see Jesus, but I cannot get to Him because of all thats going on, Jesus comes from within the storm and walks to me. In the middle of the darkest, thickest clouds of our experience, Jesus walks over to me, and the storm I am in settles right down. Peace ensuing where there was only a storm. So far, nothing has been able to really separate me from Jesus. Is Jesus like the mighty eagle that could harness the power of the storm to help us fly above it? (see Isa 40:31).
3) When Jesus got into the boat; the raging wind stopped, and the roiling sea was still. When Jesus saw me in the thick of the cloud, being tossed about by the storm, when I myself could not see Him; Jesus came to me. Like He was looking for me. And when Jesus did come to me; He brought shalom to the sea, and to me, the frightened passenger on “the boat,” of my life. Just when I thought that boat would sink; Jesus saw me, and Jesus walked right over to me. (Mark 4:29, John 14;27).
It would seem that when Jesus is there; peace reigns. And this walking on the water incident is what the rest of this article will inform us of, from two different perspectives.
“There Is Something Astonishing in the Christian Religion”
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (Luke 15:4).Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? (Luke 15:8).
There is no more familiar painting to most of us than that of the Good Shepherd with the straying sheep. Sometimes the other sheep are at His feet, gazing up at Him and at His burden; sometimes He is portrayed as sitting down, wearied with His long and painful journey; but always there is a great gladness in the picture, for the painter had felt, in all its morning freshness, the wonder of the seeking love of God. I pray that no one reading this shall never lose that sense of wonder. “Let people say what they will,” wrote Pascal, “I must avow there is something astonishing in the Christian religion.”
And there is nothing in it more astonishing than this, that God should have come to seek and save the lost. It is that glad news which lights up our lives, and brings calm to the storms we face every day. It is that truth which, like some strain of unexpected music, makes these two parables a joy forever. We shall never know, till all the books are opened, (Dan 9:2, Rev 20:12). How much sinful and despairing people have owed to the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin.
He Seeks Them One by One
Now as we read these two parables together, one of the first things to arrest us powerfully is the worth of single souls. It was one sheep the shepherd went to find. It was for one coin the woman searched the house. If a score, say, of the flock had gone missing, we could better understand the shepherd’s action. And we might excuse the bustle and the dust if five of the ten coins had rolled away. The strange thing is that with ninety and nine sheep safe, the shepherd should break his heart about the one. The wonder is that for one little coin there should be such a hunt and such a happiness. It speaks to us of the worth of single souls. It tells us of the great concern of God for the recovery of individual men.
We are all separated out, and separately loved, by Him who counts the number of the stars. I have looked sometimes at the lights of a great city, and tried to distinguish one lamp here and there; and I have thought what a perfect knowledge that would be, if a man could discriminate each separate light. But God distinguishes each separate heart. He knows and loves and seeks them one by one. And I can never feel lost in the totality, when I have mastered the chapter for today. I am not one of many with the Master. With Him, souls are not reckoned by the score. I stand alone. He has a hundred sheep to tend, I know it; yet somehow all His heart is given to me.
No Cost Is Too Great
Again this truth shines brightly in these parables: no toil or pains are spared or avoided by Jesus to seek, find, and win His lost “sheep.” (Psalms 79:13).
When the shepherd started after his straying sheep, He knew quite well it was a dangerous errand. He was going to face the perils of the desert wilderness, and he literally would take his life in his hand in doing that. True, he was armed; but if a band of robbers intercepted him, what chance had one man of coming out of that as the victor? And who could tell what ravenous beasts lay couched between the shepherd and his vagrant charge?
A hireling would never have ventured on the quest. He would have said, “There is a lion in the way.” (John 10:13). But this shepherd was not to be deterred; he risked all danger; nothing would keep him back, if only he might find and save the lost.
The woman, in the parable of the lost coin too, was thoroughly in earnest. She spared no pains to get her piece of silver. She lit her candle and she swept the house, till the whole household grumbled at the dust, and charged her not to fuss about with such a trifle. But the trifle was no trifle to her; and she persisted and swept until she found it.
Can we now see what these things are meant to teach us? God spares no pain or toils to win the lost. To seek, find, and rescue the embattled on the brink of sinking in their storm. Is it possible now to see where all these stories are interpreted? It is in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, like the woman, was passionately earnest, till all His household—His own: the Jewish people—murmured at Him in their hearts and hated Him.
And Jesus, like the shepherd, ventured on every danger, and for His sheep’s sake, took the road to Calvary. No pains, no sorrows, (Isa 53:3-4), were ever begrudged by Him who came into the wilderness, or out of the eye of the storm to save; and Jesus has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. (1 Pet 2:21)
Where Are the Lost?
This is most essential for us to note here. Keeping in mind the above Bible stories; we can realize how that there is loss in the house as well as in the desert or wilderness. It was in the wilderness that the sheep was lost. It was far from the fold with its protecting numbers. But the coin was not lost in any wilderness—it had not even rolled into the street. It was still in the house; it was lost in very familiar surroundings; it was within the walls; it was lying somewhere on the dusty floor. So too there are multitudes of people lost in heathendom; lost to the joy of the Gospel and the hopes of God in the far countries where Christ was never known.
But are there not multitudes who, like the piece of silver, stamped with God’s image, coined for useful service, are lying lost and useless right here in the house? In the church? They have been born and nurtured in a Christian country, they are encircled by Christian care and love, they are within the walls of the church visible, they have heard from childhood the message of the Gospel; yet they have never yielded their lives to the Redeemer; within the walls of the homestead they are homeless, and quite lost, without Christ.
Could you really sit there, where you are today, and tell us that there are no lost coins in your home?
We should give God no rest till by the light of His Spirit; all of the lost are found. (Luke 15:8).
For What Are They Found?
Note, lastly, in a Word, this joyful truth: the sheep, when found, was carried by the shepherd. (Isa 53:4, Isa 63:9, Rev 17:3, Rev 21:10). Jesus did not drive the sheep before the flock. He did not commit it to the charge of any underling. Jesus laid it rejoicingly on His own shoulders, and on his own shoulders Jesus carried it home:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9).
When the coin was found it was restored to service; it became useful for the woman’s need. But when the sheep was found it was upheld in the strong arm of the shepherd, till the perils of the desert wilderness was no more.
So everyone who is found by Jesus Christ is saved from their lostness, resurrected out of their brokenness, and strengthened by the very storm that weakened them and threatened to engulf them, in order that they too may be of service to their Lord. There is some little work for each of us to do. There is sometimes a larger work for some. But each work that we see as our line of duty is equal in the eyes of our Savior. Just as there was for this little piece of silver, and the big results that finding it brought to that home, and to the world beyond.
But are we merely found that we may serve? We will surely be kept and carried like the sheep. We will be found like the lost coin. We will know peace where we had none but a violent storm. We will find ourselves borne homeward by a love that is far too strong ever to let him go. It is only when we are leaning upon Christ that we are able to win heavenward at all. He alone keeps us from falling, and can present us faultless before the presence of God’s glory, with exceeding joy.
In every storm, under every cloud, His steps were either next to mine or in place of mine! All the time.
This is why God’s people can say:
“God IS good, all the time.”
God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith. SC.105.002