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Absence and Presence

by | Jul 21, 2021 | Presence

Immediately He [Jesus] made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd. And after He had taken leave of them, He went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and He was alone on the land. And He saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.'” (Mark 6:45-50 ESV)

It had been a long, hard day of teaching and miracles. It was long past time for Jesus to take a break. But instead of hopping in the boat with His disciples, Jesus stayed behind. He sent them on ahead by themselves, across the Sea of Galilee.

I wonder what the disciples thought. Was He planning to walk around the sea to meet up with them later? That would be a very long trip. Or maybe He meant to catch a ride with another boat? That would be unlikely, since night was falling.

Still, they did what Jesus told them. They got in the boat and started off, leaving Jesus alone. And Jesus went up a mountain to pray.

I wonder if they regretted leaving Jesus, once the wind came up. They were getting nowhere fast, as the wind and the waves were against them. As the hours went on, they became frightened and exhausted. I bet they missed Jesus badly at that point.

I know I do, whenever Jesus sends me into some period of my life where the future looks dark and I can’t sense God’s presence. When times like that come, we do what we have to do—whether that’s caring for a cancer patient, living through a divorce, or searching for a new job. But dark times are harder when we can’t sense Jesus’ presence. We may even be tempted to think He’s not there—that God has forgotten about us.

Though the disciples didn’t know it, Jesus had His eye on them. He could see they were in trouble. And some time in the darkest part of the night He came to them, walking on the water. The darkness and distance were no barriers to Him. Though it didn’t feel like it, the disciples had never been truly alone.

We have this promise as well. Jesus says to us, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18 ESV). Though we may feel forsaken, God has His eye on us. The One who loves you and walked through death and resurrection for you will not desert you now. He is watching over you, and He will come to you. And nothing can stop His power—or His love.

Prayer: When I feel like I’m all alone, Lord, please see me and come to me. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Reprinted with permission from Lutheran Hour Ministries

Reflection Questions:
1. Have you ever traveled in a boat? When and where?
2. When have you felt most alone in your life?
3. Tell about a time when you realized God was caring for you only after the experience was over.