Reading: Acts 27
In Chapter 27, Paul’s back on board a ship again, which for him never seems to go without complication; and this time he’s in chains and being transported to Rome to stand trial before Caesar.
And then suddenly, in what was already a pretty challenging scenario, the ship is hit by a mighty hurricane (a ‘North Easter’ – probably blowing in from somewhere around Gateshead). The storm batters the ship and throws them off course.
Many of us will have had those seasons in life, where an unexpected storm hits, pulls us apart and throws everything we thought we knew into turmoil. Earlier this year, our son was involved in a serious accident and spent a few weeks in hospital. For a while, each day seemed to get worse than the last, ‘when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved’ (v20)
We can stand in Church on a Sunday and sing lyrics like ‘Jesus You’re the only way, doesn’t matter what may come at me, I believe in You’; but then there’s nothing like a catastrophe to make us question or even give up on the declarations we’ve made.
But right in the midst of this storm, Paul keeps faith in what God has said, and despite the setback upon setback he’s faced, he even manages to speak life into the situation, telling the crew:
‘Keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost…’ (v22)
Unsurprisingly, given the situation, the rest of the crew were keen to throw themselves overboard and take their chances on a lifeboat, or at least do a Kate Winslet, and find a big door to float around on. And we understand that don’t we? Because when things get tough and there’s little sign of it getting better, then our logic begins to tell us… run, get out of the storm, leave it all behind.
But strangely, upon hearing from God, Paul tells them in v31 that unless they stay with the ship, they will not be saved.
While our instinct is to flee from challenge, God has a habit of using those seasons to shape us, improve us, hone us into what he knows we can be. So he won’t always prevent us from going through the storm, but he will protect us within the storm.
Stay close to him. Keep your faith in him. Keep praising him.
‘In this way everyone reached land safely’. (v44)
The presence of God was there with them through it all. Just as God was with my family in our storm, and just as he is with you in the challenges, however big or small, that you’re facing right now.
Contributed by Ps Paul