In all the times I have read this segment with Jesus walking on the water through the storm to the disciples, never have I given much thought to the fact that the disciples are wearing themselves out rowing against the wind. If I did it was only to apply it to my own struggles. However St. Bede also saw a larger message in it that makes a lot of sense to me, especially when considering how often the Church Fathers saw things like Noah's Ark symbolizing the Church.
St. Bede the Venerable comments on this whole episode in this way: "In a mystical sense, the disciples' efforts to row against the wind point to the efforts the Holy Church must make against the waves of the enemy world and the outpourings of evil spirits in order to reach the haven of its heavenly home. It is rightly said that the boat was out on the sea and He alone on the land, because the Church has never been so intensely persecuted by the Gentiles that it seemed as if the Redeemer had abandoned it completely. But the Lord sees his disciples struggling, and to sustain them he looks at them compassionately and sometimes frees them from peril by clearly coming to their rescue.