Life Is A...

30 Days in Exile Devotionals - Day 22

by Roger Sappington on

Devotionals 5 min read
Mark 6:45–52

MANY ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE WELL-LOVED 1994 film Forrest Gump and the memorable line uttered by its title character played by Tom Hanks – “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” As the movie depicted, Forrest knew firsthand that life could bring both joy and pain. Others have described life in different ways. Tom Cochrane, and later Rascal Flatts, would sing, “Life is a highway.” Muhammed Ali said, “Life is a gamble.” For so many in this world, life is a struggle; not necessarily a joyless struggle, but a battle nonetheless. We age. We have to pay bills. Our children don’t always obey. Christians living as exiles in this world sometimes face additional challenges as they seek to be faithful. Thankfully, we have the Spirit of Christ as a Helper in the fight.

In Mark 6:45-52 we see the disciples in a struggle to survive. As they were making their way across the Sea of Galilee, a storm began to brew that threatened their lives. No doubt fear and anxiety began to set in as they wondered where Jesus was in the midst of this storm. In this account, Mark shares with his readers three truths that encourage them (and us) in our struggle.

Jesus Sees Us In The Struggle
In Jesus’ day, it would normally take about six hours to cross the Sea of Galilee by boat. However, the disciples had now been on the lake for over eight hours and they were nowhere near the shore. As one version says, they were “straining at the oars.”

Though Jesus was alone on the land, he was not unaware of the great challenges his disciples were facing (Mark 6:47-48). No doubt, he had compassion on them in their struggle.

As we face our own storms, we can often wonder whether anybody sees us, especially God. Does he see what I’m dealing with? Does he even care? A verse to remember in those times is Matthew 10:30-31 – “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.Not only does Jesus see you, but he is aware of the even the smallest details of your life. He knows this because you are of such worth to him.

Jesus Shows Us His Glory In The Struggle
The text says with little fanfare, “And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea” (Mark 6:48). For us who’ve heard this story many times, the power of these words can be lost, but for the disciples in those early morning hours, this was no casual occurrence. A man was walking on water. Jesus was showing himself to be Lord of the sea, able to tame this wild place that brought great fear to ancient minds. Mark goes on to say that Jesus meant to pass by them. At first this seems strange – why would Jesus intend to pass them up? But then we remember how the Lord revealed himself to Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament. He passed by them. Jesus wanted to show the disciples something of his glory. He had to pass before them in the pain of their struggle so they could see his power.

The way God reveals himself in our struggle may not look the way we want, and it doesn’t usually happen according to our timing. But as we look back upon those seasons of time, we have greater vision to see how the Lord was showing more of his person, provision, and presence to us.

Jesus Is With Us In The Struggle
Before Jesus ever gets into the boat with the disciples, he knows something that would seem to disqualify them from his presence: their faith is small and their hearts are hard. The text says they were “utterly astounded,” “they did not understand,” and “their hearts were hard.” No doubt, each of us on the worst days of our struggle are like the disciples – lacking in faith, a little hard of heart. And we think this repels Jesus, that it pushes him away. But Jesus never denies his own. In fact, when Jesus sees us hurting in the struggle, he is even more compelled to come and offer us his mercy and grace. That’s when Jesus gets in the boat with us. For Christians, his Spirit is always with us, but there is an added measure of his Spirit’s comfort when we need it most.

Life is a struggle, but Jesus is with us. Life is a struggle, but Jesus is able.

Jesus, it brings me comfort to know that you see me, are with me, and desire to use my struggle to lead me to know you more deeply. Help me to trust you, especially when it feels like I’m straining at the oars in the early morning hours. Give me eyes to see you as you pass before me and come sit beside me. Amen.


  1. Which of the three truths about Jesus from this passage brings you the most encouragement? Why?
  2. What area of your life would you most describe as a struggle?
  3. If you know someone who is experiencing significant difficulty, pray they may know the presence of Christ with them and consider how you could encourage them with your words or actions.

About the Author

Dr. Roger Sappington (D. Min. Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, M. Div. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Executive Pastor of Central Bible Church and the author of 30 Days in Exile.