by Eric Dunbar
At some point in life everyone has experienced the heaviness of the pressures of life. The emotional despondency of tribulation brings with it a sense of abandonment that makes you feel trapped and hopeless. But even in your darkest hour you can be encouraged. Know that God is with you every step of the way, and He will deliver you from your troubles, no matter how great.
I remember how badly I wanted to stop smoking crack cocaine. I had tried many times to turn my back on this demonic drug, only to find myself smoking even more crack than before. I was in a never ending cycle. It seemed as though I would take two steps forward and then one step backward. But that was before I heard about Jesus.
One day while reading my Bible, I turned to the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew. There I read about the beheading of John the Baptist. Jesus’ mother Mary and John’s mother Elizabeth were sisters, therefore John and Jesus first cousins. When Jesus heard about the beheading of His cousin John, it was must have been a very dark hour for Him. But rather than sit under a tree and mourn, as many of us would have done, Jesus asked His disciples to go with Him to the mountain to pray. He knew that in His darkest hour, He would need to draw strength from God in this great time of weakness. When the people of the surrounding regions heard that Jesus had gone out into the wilderness, they followed Him because they had seen how He healed those who were diseased.
Instead of thinking of Himself, Jesus sat on the side of the mountain and began to teach the people about the kingdom of God, and after He taught them, He healed them. As evening approached, Jesus’ twelve disciples realizing that the people were hungry, asked Jesus to send them away before the end of the day, that they might go into the surrounding villages to buy food for themselves. But Jesus urged His disciples not to send them away, but instead they should feed them. But His disciples told Him that it would be impossible to feed them because the only food among them was a young boy’s lunch, which consisted of five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus told them to bring the fish and the bread to Him and make the people sit down on the grass. Then He took the loaves and the fish, and when He had given thanks, He broke the loaves and the fish and distributed them among His disciples, and they likewise, to the people.
It was not until Jesus had fed the people that He sent them home. Besides the miracle of feeding five thousand people, that day Jesus did an amazing thing. He placed the people’s needs above His own needs. Even in His darkest hour, Jesus had compassion for the people. He recognized that they were in a dark hour too, so He fed them.
Immediately after this, Jesus told His disciples to go to the other side of the lake to Bethsaida, where He would join them later. Then He went up the mountain alone to do what He had originally come to do — He prayed. Being both God and man, Jesus submitted Himself wholly to His Father. He also knew the power of prayer and He chose to depend and rely on His Father for everything.
It was already dark when His disciples got into the boat to make the ten mile trip to the other side of the lake. Jesus looked down from the mountain from where He prayed and saw His disciples struggling to row against the wind. Mark’s gospel says, “…about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea…” (Mark 6:48). The fourth watch of the night is between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.; it is the darkest time of a day’s cycle, it is just before the sun breaks the horizon. The disciples had been rowing their boat since dark, but they had only traveled about three or four miles (John 6:19).
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea they were all afraid, but Peter, wanting more proof that it was the Lord, said, “‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So Jesus said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” (Matthew 14:28-29). “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid…” As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he was able to do what he thought to be impossible; he walked on water. You see, as long as kept his mind on God he was at peace. It is written, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3). For a moment Peter’s faith in Jesus sustained him on the water; for that moment he was in perfect peace because he trusted in the Lord. But Peter allowed the wind to rob him of his peace, and as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and began to pay attention (give weight to) the wind, he started to sink. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him.
In the disciples’ darkest hour, the bible says “He came to them… and would have passed them by.” When I saw this I thought it strange that it read, “the Lord would have passed them by.” When the Holy Spirit reminded me of how the Lord came to me in my darkest hour of my addiction, then I realized that He would have also passed me by too, but like Peter, I called out to Him and just when I was about to sink, the Lord grabbed me and pulled me to safety. Then He entered my small world — my boat — and immediately, we were at the other side of my addiction.
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call on the Lord. He knows that you are struggling with your habit, trying to get to the other side of your addiction. He sees the storms of life bearing down on you. Without God’s help you are destined to fail. How long will you look for your freedom in other places? “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” (Psalm 3:8). Salvation is much more than being saved from the eternal flames of hell. Salvation is wholeness and completeness, and only God can give salvation.
To someone who is addicted, trying to turn away from addiction is the equivalent of Peter stepping out of the safety of his boat to walk on water. Peter knew that walking on water was an impossibility that he could not accomplish on his own, just as every addict knows that it is impossible to stop using on their own. Without proper knowledge of God, or a lack of faith in God, or both, most addicts turn to other sources to help them accomplish the seemingly impossible. We clearly understand that no one can walk on water, but it is possible to stay afloat with the help of a flotation device such as a life jacket, but that is only a temporary solution. In the end, you will sink. Likewise, it is impossible to remain addiction free indefinitely without divine help.
God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension, but He does not force His love on anyone. God is always near, but He comes even closer when we invite Him into our troubles. James’ gospel says it like this: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). God is a loving Father who knows when you have reached your end. In your darkest hour call out to Him. Remember, “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape…” (1 Corinthians 10:13).