9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:9–11, NKJV)
The carpenter told the fishermen where to cast their nets to catch fish. Like Peter, when the Master speaks, those who trust the Lord will follow His word. The miraculous catch of fish they hauled to shore prompted Peter to confess his sins to the Lord (Lk. 5:4-8). The fishermen were astonished and afraid, but Jesus eased their fears by assuring them of even greater catches to come. Peter, James, and John soon would be catching souls. The gospel these future apostles preached continues to capture lost souls by convicting sinners and converting them to Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-48). These men set us a worthy example of immediate conviction, uncompromising priority, and sacrifice of faith in order to serve Jesus. When Jesus speaks, we must forsake all and follow Him (Lk. 14:33; 9:23).
16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17, NKJV)
Paul’s faith did not waver as he faced impending death at the hands of lawless men (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Forsaken by friend and foe, he was not forsaken by the Lord (2 Timothy 4:10, 14). Nor did Paul expect Timothy to turn away from him, as he urged him to “Be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9). Paul paid a great price as an apostle of Christ. Truly, the Lord showed “him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Yet even now, surrounded by enemies and facing eminent death, Paul knew his mission, and was not deterred from fully preaching the gospel. Even so, we are faithful to the Lord, knowing He promises not to abandon us in our time of need. We may take courage from the faithful example of Paul, assured that the Lord “Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say; ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. 8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:7–8, NKJV)
When the psalmist cried out to the Lord in the past, his cry was answered according to God’s lovingkindness and truth (Psa. 138:3). Now, the psalmist summarizes his continued reliance upon God in the midst of trouble; God “will” act on his behalf! Like the psalmist, God’s power saves and enlivens us, even as He delivers His wrath upon the enemies of the righteous. All is not lost when you must travel the road of trouble; the Lord is not finished with you. God is able to perfect or complete you by means of your present trials (1 Pet. 1:6-9). His mercy is endless, therefore, He will not abandon you. Be strengthened in your faith, and never abandon Him.
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45–46, NKJV)
Even while enduring the excruciating agony of the cross, Jesus identified Himself with king David and his great Messianic song of faith and praise from Psalm 22. Far from a cry of despair and denial, the song expressed David’s abiding assurance that when danger descends and it appears as though God does not hear our cry, He is not far away – even in the darkest hour. David cried out, “But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me,” and with assurance added, “You have answered Me” (Psa. 22:19-21). God did not abandon David. Even so, Jesus was not abandoned on the cross, even though He had to endure those dark hours without immediate relief from the Father. When you must endure suffering for your faith, remember that God is near. He does not abandon His people. He cares. He hears. He answers.