Focus Magnifies (Matthew 14:23-33)

Many would like to forget the year 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked unparalleled havoc across our globe. More than 81,000,000 reported cases have taken the lives of 1,771,000 worldwide. Many who died in 2020, regardless of the cause of death, did so without loved ones allowed to be at their sides. Government-ordered shutdowns have contributed to the permanent closure of 110,000 restaurants in the United States alone, as the number of businesses in economic peril continues to climb daily. Empty sports arenas, sparsely populated football stadiums, and churches closed for worship services are indicative of the postponed weddings, funerals, tournaments, and conventions that used to fill our everyday lives. This turmoil has clouded our perspective of eternity.

Author, Philip Yancey, likened life to a magnifying glass, where the focal point is magnified, and the area around it becomes fuzzy. Amidst chaos, we either focus on Christ or the circumstances. When we focus on Christ, He is clearly magnified, and the circumstances become fuzzy. When we focus on the circumstances, our perspective of Christ becomes fuzzy.

Peter experienced the importance of perspective firsthand. He and his fellow disciples had sailed far from shore in the middle of the night on the Sea of Galilee when a severe storm hit. They were terrified and crying out in fear as they saw what appeared to be a ghost walking on the water. Jesus identified Himself and immediately said: “‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’” (Matthew 14:27). Peter wanted to walk on the water, too. At Jesus’ invitation, Peter got out of the boat, and with his eyes focused on the Messiah, he strolled across the waves, until “He saw the wind.” (Matthew 14:30). Peter collapsed in fear and began to sink. Matthew, an eyewitness, recorded: “Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31). Both Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat, the wind died down, and those who were in the boat worshiped Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).

When we move from fear to faith, our battle becomes an act of worship. Amidst the storm of our pandemic, Jesus still says to each of us these same words: “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27). The question remains: Will we trust Him? The first step to doing so is exactly what Jesus did while His disciples were setting sail: He prayed alone, focusing on His heavenly Father (Matthew 14:23).

Is your focus on Christ or the circumstances? Begin each day in a conversation with God. Ask Him to shift your perspective from our world’s confusion to the ultimate clarity discovered in Christ. As you move from fear to faith, Jesus, not the wind, will be magnified.

Episode 258: How to Be Thankful with Kelsey Herber from mitchkrusetv on Vimeo.