One of the ways that God reveals Himself to us is through His names. The names of God throughout the Bible reveal the character and works of God; they show us more of Himself. One prominent name of God in the Old Testament is the name El Shaddai, which is typically translated “God Almighty.” El is a form of the Hebrew word for God, and Shaddai is a Hebrew word that can carry the ideas of strength and power as well as protection and provision.
So what does the name El Shaddai tell us about God? It teaches us that God is powerful enough to help us and protect us, and it also teaches that God will care for us. Very often we face difficulties in life that can be discouraging. We wonder how they will be taken care of, and we can worry about them. But God is El Shaddai; He is the God Almighty who is powerful enough to care for our needs and who cares for us. But at times it can be difficult to trust God when it seems that the problems around us are screaming for our attention.
Peter gives us a vivid illustration of what we often do in our own lives when problems come. In Matthew 14, the disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm came (because of the geography of the land, wind storms were common on the Sea of Galilee). Matthew 14:25-27 says, “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 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 came to them by walking on the water, which was a miracle in itself. Perhaps impulsively, Peter spoke up with a request that probably wouldn’t be the first thing that we think to ask for. Matthew 14:28-29 says, “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” Peter asked that if it truly was Jesus, for Jesus to invite him out on the water as well. Jesus did, and Peter stepped out of the boat. God performs another miracle, and Peter is walking on the water as well. God is El Shaddai, and He is able to perform this miracle.
But even after seeing the miracle that God is doing, what does Peter do? Matthew 14:30 says, “ But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to look at the wind and the waves around him. He literally looked away from the One who could perform this miracle, El Shaddai, and began to look at his circumstances around him. When he looked at Jesus, he had faith that God would help him. When he looked at his circumstances, he doubted and gave up his faith. But when he cried out for help, then Jesus did still help him. Matthew 14:31 says, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Instead of looking at our circumstances and doubting, God wants us to look to Him, El Shaddai, and believe that He can help us.
We often have the response of Peter. We know that God is powerful and that God can help us, but we look at our circumstances going on around us. They seem to scream for our attention and stop us from looking away from them. But when we look at them and worry about them, we often fail to trust God the way that we should. Instead of looking at our circumstances, we need to keep our focus on El Shaddai, God Almighty, who is able to help us. When we do that, then we can trust the One who truly is able to help us through the difficulties that we face.