And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Jesus had spent the day teaching a multitude of five thousand not counting the women and children and then miraculously feeding them all with five loaves and two fishes and coming up with twelve baskets full of fragments after everyone was full.
Jesus then constrains His disciples to get into a ship and cross the sea while He goes up into a mountain by Himself to pray. The disciples had to be riding a spiritual high after being part of such a great miracle. Without a doubt they were in the will of God as Jesus had constrained them to get in the ship and cross the sea. I’m sure they felt they were doing well spiritually and they must have felt like they were full of faith for Jesus to have used them in such a powerful way and to speak the will of God to them so directly.
Soon however the darkness of night descended and the wind became contrary to the disciples who were trying their best to do as the Lord had told them and cross the sea. After being part of such an awesome move of God suddenly they could not seem to get anywhere and begin to fear that they would even be drowned in the sea because they were receiving such opposition.
Suddenly in the middle of the night and in the middle of the contrary wind and waves Jesus comes walking to them on the sea. Things were so out of control that the poor disciples did not even recognize Jesus but thought Him to be some spirit. The disciples were troubled and cried out for fear.
It was at that moment that Jesus spoke to the disciples and said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” The situation had not changed yet but Jesus is telling them that they have a choice to be of good cheer in the middle of the contrary sea.
We cannot change the situations most of the time but this we can do, we can recognize that Jesus is still on His throne ruling with mercy and love and we can choose to be of good cheer regardless of the contrary sea.