Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  … And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14: 22-27, 32

 

This week I read a Beth Moore (Breaking Free) reflection on this passage, and it refreshed in me a spiritual care principle I truly trust and try to live.  Moore stated that Jesus’ first response to his frightened disciples was to offer himself as the encouragement, not fix the problem.  In other translations we see, “Take courage, it is I…”  Taking heart or courage is offered through Jesus’ presence.  For, as we see in the scripture, it was only after he got in the boat with his disciples was the situation resolved. 

 

Jesus’ statement, It is I, reminded me of Moses’ request for God’s name.  God’s response was “Yahweh,” which means I am or I am who I am.  The Creator of the Universe is.  The Divine is present to us no matter where we are or what our circumstances; and the acknowledgement of this presence has great power.  Stated differently: Belief or faith in the Divine’s presence and the Divine’s care about our circumstances makes a huge difference.  Throughout the Bible, the phrase “fear not” is expressed; most of the time it is accompanied by “God is with you”.  My belief in the real presence of God, trusting that God will provide resources, has made all the difference in the world for me and has enabled me to face uncomfortable situations.  Most of these situations are unfixable events; yet, I survive and even thrive because of them. 

 

The spiritual care principle of God’s presence not only helps with my struggles, it also assists me in my ministry support of others.  It calls me to incarnate this presence, to offer my heart as I support others.  In health care it is easy to get caught up in the disciplined science and technical aspects of medicine and not relate to the deeply personal facet of this care.  Offering our presence is the one certain thing that always brings value to the person in need.  

 

I have heard it said, People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care; and our mission statement reads, “We help people achieve health for life through compassionate service inspired by faith.”  To do this well, we must choose to partner with all who come to us for care.  A holistic view of “health for life” always recognizes that medical care has its limits, and, ultimately, will not keep us from facing life’s great equalizer – death.  Yet, in the midst of this reality and other life changing realities, it is precisely the place where offering our presence affects others for good.  It does not change the person in need’s reality, yet it always encourages.

 

May we, with God’s help, say “It is I” to others as we offer our presence in all of life’s experiences!

 

     Joe

 

Joseph F. Perez, M. Div., BCC

Vice President Pastoral Services

P.O. Drawer 2588

Harlingen, TX 78550

  

May God grant you resource for the journey

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