"And He said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find. Therefore they cast, and now they no longer had the strength to draw, from the multitude of fish", John 21:6.

These were poor and long-suffering men. They must have struggled their whole life through. Many times, under a hot sun, or a cold rainy weather, they fished close to nothing, mostly. Yet, they continued to be fishermen – they knew their office well. And there comes a stranger unto them, bringing them some hope – eternal hope – which they soon lost because the main reason they had left their nets behind was gone and died before their own eyes; nobody recounted it to them, they saw it themselves, they felt it themselves. We know that, whenever someone lives in uncertainty, any hope is welcome as long as it says what the hopeless wishes to hear, but only until that same hope is defrauded somehow – they might never trust someone again if they happen to be hurt with such a sword as to kill all hope for good. And this is what had happened to them: the eternal treasure they have left their nets for before, was gone before their eyes. In this state of heart they went fishing, catching nothing at all, all day long. They did not seem to care, anyway, since their hearts were broken and unhealed still.

But what marked these men, was not that they were humble or even poor – their spirit was something worth looking at. Both here and in the first occurrence we read of this; there is something that stands out, yet none sees it but God. Imagine the discouragement, the mood they must have had after having fished all day long, being hungry and married, yet with nothing to carry home. And there comes someone saying: “cast the nets on the other side”. What would you do, what would you feel like doing at that moment? Think highly of yourself and not listen? Trust in experience and talk back? Listen to a stranger? Make as if you were not listening to look polite and avoid cursing? These people kind of obeyed naturally, for they knew not who it was that was speaking to them then. Against all odds, these discouraged men threw their net on the other side – something they must have done many times that day alone.

What kind of heart does that upon the word of a stranger? If they knew it was the Lord, they would have gladly done so. But, what was at stake here, was not who spoke, but what they would have done anyway by hearing it. The Lord came and they were not aware of it. And they did not sink on into a discouraged mood, for they did cast those nets once more and prevailed, for they were humble enough to hear the word of a stranger. Their heart was lowly and unprotected – could they ever listen to a voice they knew not? No, for this voice they heard was but theirs within, they symphonized with it. It was a lowly heart voice which spoke to lowly heart people and they listened. If they were given to discouragement, they would not do what they did.

Besides, they must have heard their Lord was back at this point. They did not claim to own the power over the sea, for they complained not that they were not being helped out. Their waiting was natural, kind and without self in it all. They could now and would gather with the Lord. They would never scatter, for they had company for eternity. (Luke 11:23 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters). Will you be discouraged with much less than this?

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José Mateus