Monday, August 5, 2019
When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, ‘Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’
Have you ever been stuck in a terrible storm? I mean a real storm. One where you couldn’t sleep for fear of trees falling on your house?
Several years ago, Hurricane Fran hit Cary, North Carolina, and I’ll never forget it. The eye of the storm passed us by, but the damage was still quite broad. The wind and rain beat against the walls of our home, as trees cracked and moaned all around us. Storms have a way of reminding us how small we really are, don’t they?
In Acts 27, Paul is caught up in the deadliest storm of his life. The sky is black. The sailors are stranded, starving, and abandoning all hope of survival. It seems that even Paul is afraid. But after receiving a vision from one of God’s angels, he delivers a message that is as relevant to us today as it was to those hopeless sailors. The message provides an anchor for us in the midst of our own storms—no matter what form they take.
First, Paul reminds them that there is a God. We don’t always see Him. We can’t always hear Him. Sometimes it seems He has abandoned us. But He is there. He is, in fact, the Creator of the storm and He has a good and perfect purpose for it.
With that confidence, W.C. Martin penned an old hymn text that you may want to commit to memory. He wrote:
Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest-driven soul
I am peaceful, for I know
Wildly though the winds may blow
I’ve an anchor safe and sure
That can evermore endure
Secondly, Paul informs these sailors that God is his God. God is personal. He isn’t a distant, apathetic God. He cares.
I’m surprised these sailors didn’t retort back with something like, “Well if this is your God, why are you in chains on a ship that’s being torn apart by wind and waves? Why would your God put you through this storm?”
That’s the question we often ask in the midst of our own storms, isn’t it? But Paul provides a wonderful perspective for us here in this scene. Even though the storm is at its most torrential point, he insists on calling God his God. What a testimony that must have been to these pagan sailors.
Paul shouts above the howling storm and crashing waves, “My God is alive. I belong to Him and He belongs to me.”
Cling to that truth today because it is bigger than any storm you could ever face. God is alive. You belong to Him. And He has a sovereign purpose for your life that cannot be thrown off course, no matter how strong the storm gets.
The topic of trials and how we respond to them is a continual theme in the book of Acts. But trusting God in the middle of chaos and confusion is not something we ever master. So even if you succeeded yesterday at handing your trials to Him, begin anew today. Pray for faith to trust Him more, and thank Him for His many blessings that surround you even now.