What’s Going On, God?

If only Peter and his six buddies could have fired up the speakers in his fishing boat and played a Gaither song, perhaps their bewilderment after Jesus’s death and resurrection would have been eased. Instead, Peter did what many of us do when our understanding becomes cloudy; He returned to what was familiar. He and his disciple friends hushed their confusion by busying themselves fishing on the Sea of Galilee. (John 21)

It had been a tumultuous few weeks. Peter, who had once sworn unwavering allegiance to Jesus, found himself in a state of inner conflict. He had promised never to leave Him, only to turn around and deny Him three times before the crowing of the rooster. The guilt from betraying and leaving his dear friend when He needed him most wrapped around his heart like an anaconda squeezing the life out of its prey. 

Despite seeing the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes, Peter and the other disciples weren’t sure how to follow a man who had died and come back to life. Their partnership with Jesus had been based on enlisting others to become disciples. How were they supposed to continue that mission now? I can almost hear a perplexed Peter ask, “What’s going on, God? This isn’t what I imagined!”  

All night long, Peter and the boys cast their nets into the dark waters, their hopes rising and falling with each empty haul. Rocking with the rhythm of the Sea of Galilee would have been a good time to cue up the Gaithers: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, life is worth the living just because He lives.” 

All night long, Jesus waited for his friends. As the first rays of sunlight streaked the sky, the disciples saw a figure walking along the water’s edge. He called out, breaking the stillness of the morning, “Caught anything?” They hadn’t, so He told them to cast their nets on the other side. Soon, their nets swelled with all kinds of fish. John immediately recognized Jesus, and the confused and guilty Peter jumped out of the boat to get to Jesus. 

Most people abandoned or betrayed by a friend might wag a finger and ask, “How could you?” Most would demand an apology or gear up for a fight. Some would let their hurt be known through their silence. Others might ignore the offense and walk away bitter. But what did Jesus do? He made breakfast. 

After sharing a meal, Jesus engaged Peter in a conversation that would free him from the pain of his offense and reinstate his purpose. Jesus graciously gave Peter three opportunities to express his deep love for Him. Each time Peter heard a rooster crow, these three affirmations of love would serve as a shield against his guilt.

Before Peter knew Jesus was near, Jesus lit the fire. Before the first growl in Peter’s belly, Jesus began preparing breakfast. Before any of them recognized Him, Jesus called to them. Most importantly, before their conversation even started, Jesus had already forgiven Peter. 

Guilt, pain from the past, or confusion about our circumstances can cloud the grace and mercy Jesus offers. Our perplexed hearts cry out, “What’s going on, God?” Yet, it’s in our brokenheartedness that we realize our need for God. That’s when we choose to pull our nets out of the familiar waters of self-reliance and cast them into the unknown, where Jesus waits to swell them with blessings. He never pours out pain (Satan does that), but God certainly knows how to use it to bless us and those who witness His hand upon us.

The first day Jesus called Peter to be His disciple, He told him that he would become a fisher of men. However, Peter didn’t understand what that meant. He needed to learn and experience some things before effectively turning men into disciples. 

The more we know, the better disciples we become. The better disciples we are, the better we are at leading others to Jesus. I believe Peter learned these truths that apply to us all:

The taught teach. (John 6:45)

The forgiven forgive. (Colossians 3:13)

The loved love. (John 13:34)

The encouraged encourage. (Romans 1:12)

The blessed bless. (Proverbs 11:25)

The comforted comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

[Please pray for my dear friend Denise. She will be having surgery today (Tuesday). Her faith is remarkably strong because she consistently casts her net at the feet of Jesus. She has taught, forgiven, loved, encouraged, blessed, and comforted me – and so many others.]

“I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalms 121:1-2)

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