Waiting in the Dark
By: Elise Ingle
“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.” Mark 6:47-48
It’s not often that the Lord answers my desperate prayers the way I want Him to. I want deliverance now. I want over-the-counter healing and a quick-mart miracle. I don’t want to wait another minute in my suffering. I cry to the Lord for mercy. I pray specific. I trust and believe. But when the healing doesn’t come and the miracle doesn’t manifest, my heart feels disregarded.
After Jesus fed five thousand men in the wilderness, He promptly sent His disciples away. Up on the mountain, Jesus prayed alone. Sometime in the evening a contrary wind began to blow and sent a roiling chop battering against the belly of the disciples’ boat. Muscles straining, the seasoned fishermen beat back at the waves, shoving their oars at the angry rollers. From His vantage point on the mount, Jesus could clearly see them toiling below. But He didn’t come to the rescue. Not until nearly the next morning.
The fourth watch covered the wee hours of the morning just before dawn, about 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. Our scripture gives us this small detail that poses a big question. If the storm began in the evening, why did Jesus wait so long to come to His disciples? These poor men spent hours and hours, sweating and swapping turns at the oars. In the pitch black of night they would have been begging for mercy, fainter winds, and smaller peaks against the helm. Bailing out buckets of saltwater mingled with tears, they would have fervently prayed for deliverance.
I wonder what kind of thoughts went through their minds as their strength and spirits gave out. Has God forgotten me? Have I done something wrong? Does the Lord not care if I drown? I have had similar thoughts before. I bet you have too. If you’ve ever been in a season of suffering when God seemed far away, you probably felt as if you might also drown in the storm. I think our boys were well past hope when they saw the pale figure of Jesus walking on the waves.
We can only speculate why Jesus waited while His disciples struggled. Perhaps the Lord was teaching them total dependence on God and not in themselves. To “trust in the Lord with all of [their] hearts and lean not to [their] own understanding”. Maybe He wanted them to see that His timing is perfect, even after a long hard fight. Maybe they needed to remember they were mere mortal men and that the only strength and power they had within them came from Christ alone. I know I need these reminders. But my favorite take-away from this story is no matter how long and how hard the night, Jesus will come walking. Hang on my friends. He’s coming. Even if it’s in the fourth watch of the night.