Lean on Me


Reflection on Matthew 14: 22-33

“You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on”

The fourth verse of Lean on Me by Bill Withers is an appropriate reflection on Jesus’ exhortation to his disciples: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (MT 14:27). Mr. Withers’ and Jesus’ exhortations speak of the power of asking for help in troublesome times and the assurance that the hearer will lend us a hand.

Fear and anxiety are as part of life as courage and serenity. Most us experience all four of them at different points and degrees in our lives. Those experiences are brought about by the environment and people around us or by our own doing. In the case of the apostles, the combination of the waves tossing their boat and them about and their vision of a “ghost” produced anxiety and fear. They had no control over the wind and their fear interfered with their clarity. Peter, however, created his own anxiety and fear. He could have stayed in the boat to wait for Jesus. However, he decided to do otherwise. Some may called him courageous for doing so. Others may called him unwise. Regardless, Peter found himself in dire straits, in need of a helping hand. Finding himself drowning, he did what most of us would do at a time like that, he prayed: “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30). “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him” (MT 14:31) thus answering Peter’s prayer. Then, when Peter and Jesus “got into the boat, the wind died down” (MT 14:33). Like the apostles, our life experiences were filled with fear and anxiety as well as with courage and serenity.

Jesus wants us to ask for help, to trust him in time of need. He said to us: “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Peter heeded Jesus’ words. He asked for help and he received it. That should be good news for us, right? However, there are times when we ask: “Why are my prayers not answered?”; “Why did God not save my child, spouse, or loved-one?”; “Why does God allow discrimination, injustice, and abuse?”; “Why is there hunger and homelessness?” Those are painful and normal questions to ask. It is a mystery why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. He is not responsible for their happening though. The environment, the people around us or ourselves are. On the other hand, in His mercy, God sent His Son to die for us to give us hope that one day we will experience joy and peace. In the meantime, Jesus is with us when we experience fear and anxiety. He is with us in our difficult and sorrowful moments. God desires for us to trust in Jesus in time of need, to be His children in faith. Jesus will stretch out his hand and catch us whether in this world or the next.

Mr. Withers tells us in the first verse of Lean on Me:

“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow”

Christians are people of faith and hope, people of a better tomorrow. For Jesus tells us: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peace and Goodness

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