“Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid” (Mark 6:50).
They thought they had seen a ghost!
Already bone-weary from “toiling and rowing” against a “contrary” wind, and still “in the midst of the sea” though the night was far gone, they saw something in the distance that frightened them even more than the storm itself.
It was a ghost — they thought — and a chilling fear gripped them as they were made to face something they had never experienced before. At first, doubtless, they were petrified, gripped with unspeakable terror. Then they “cried out” and in response came the reassuring voice of their own blessed Master and Lord: “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid”. The grim specter that had filled them with stark dread had turned out to be the Lord Himself, the One whom they loved more deeply than any other on earth. See their faces! Looks of terror have given way now to looks of relief and joy. Their faces now are wreathed in smiles.
What a lesson for God’s people in times of crisis! When caught in the grip of unspeakable fear, unable to face what seems to lie ahead, it is an infinite blessing to hear His voice, saying, “It is I“; not merely “I am here too”, but “it is I”. “I am in this trouble you fear to face. Indeed, it is I you will find in all your troubles if you will look at them more closely.”
Those who are so careless as to confuse the believer’s standing with his condition and experience should take note that it is Paul, the one who writes of our position in the heavenlies, who says in his very last epistle and in its very last chapter: “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me… Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” (II Tim. 4:16,17).
It was a frightening experience to have to stand as a Christian before the wicked monster, Nero. And standing there alone, forsaken by all, served to add hopelessness to fear. Ah, but in his darkest hour “the Lord stood with him, and strengthened him”. Yes, Paul knew something of this, and so might we when crises alarm us. So might we hear those encouraging, comforting words: “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid”. source