Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
- Matthew 14:25
In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples being tossed by the wind and waves in their boat on the Sea of Galilee. Then Jesus came, walking on the water, at the fourth watch of the night.
The fourth watch was the last part of the night, just before dawn. At this point, the disciples had been at sea-their hands probably blistered and bloodied from toil at the oars-for at least nine hours in this fierce storm. So we see that Jesus came to them at the last conceivable moment.
God's delays are not necessarily His denials
This reminds us that God's delays aren't necessarily His denials. Jesus had heard their first cries for help. He knew what He was doing all along.
Why did He wait so long before He intervened? Probably because it took a long time for these men to exhaust their resources and completely trust in Him.
Lifeguards will tell you that often the hardest person to save is the one who is panicking. But when an individual is exhausted, when he or she has no energy left, the lifeguard can pull that person back in to safety.
In the same way, sometimes God will allow us to get to the end of our rope, to the end of our resources, so we will finally cling to Him.
Just before dawn
The disciples were exhausted and afraid, but that was the moment that "[Jesus] said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.' Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going" (John 6:20-21).
For many of us, that is what Jesus is waiting for. He is waiting for us to say, "I can't row another second. I can't go another inch in my own strength. Please, Lord, help me. Come on board."
He will step into your storm-tossed boat and take control, if you will invite Him. He will be there for you . . . even in the darkest night, just before the dawn.