Staying Above the Water


When I’m feeling particularly low, I often imagine myself neck deep in water, fighting to keep myself from falling under, fighting to take each breath. Depression can often feel like this. An overwhelming force that has a life and a current of its own.

The fight to keep going, together up each day, to get dressed, to leave the flat,to get work done, to be a ‘normal’ functioning human being – its like treading water. Treading water when everything within you just wants to stop, your muscles have met their limit and you just don’t have the strength to move your arms and your legs and keep yourself above the water. Treading water whilst the current is dragging you down, dragging you away, threatening to break you.

Depression, for me, often feels like a constant fear of falling under and never being able to break the surface again.

So what hope is therefore someone as weak as myself to stay above the water whenthr strong band overwhelming force of mental illness contiues to drag me down. Well, there is very much hope indeed.

Let me take you into the pages of the gospel of Matthew; here we find Jesus’ disciples are in a boat, travelling to Gennerat, having been told by Jesus to go ahead whilst he himself withdrew to a mountain to spend time praying to his Father.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

‘Come,’ he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

– Matthew 14:25-31


Here we see the saving power of Jesus. We see God’s grace as Jesus reaches out and stops a dear friend from falling under. We see a God who not only cares for his people, but loves them so much that he comes right into the same water we find ourself to be sinking in.

Yes, there is far more that could be found in this passage. But even this one picture points towards what the bible is all about. Just as Jesus reaches out to save Peter from the water that is overwhelming him, so he came down into this world, reaching out into our messy, broken lives. Just as he caught Peter, so he catches us, lifts us out of the water, keeps us from falling under – however much we may feel that we are overwhelmed.

An illustration used in a talk at church has been a really helpful thing for me to remember:

As we find ourselves battling the waves and the fierce current that life throws at us, Jesus is the hope that we have. He is our saviour.

He doesn’t throw us a book that instructs us how to build a boat.

He doesn’t shout encouragement and motivational statements from the shore.

He comes right down to where we are in the crushing tempest, and he takes our hand and pulls us out of the water.

And here’s one of the many amazing things about God: we are safe in his hands. We don’t have to depend on our holding so very tight to him, because he is holding so tightly on to us and he will never let us go.