“No small storm was assailing us.” –Acts 27:20
Here we are in the middle of 2020 with “no small storm assailing us.” In fact, we recognize multiple storms assailing us along with the fear and anxiety they bring.
The entire March issue of Tabletalk magazine, an outreach from Ligonier Ministries, was dedicated to a very timely topic: FEAR and ANXIETY. In one article, The Reality of Fear, Dr. Ed Welch, a Christian counselor, writes: “They are not so much problems that occasionally seize us; they are regular features of daily life that can be either quiet in the background or loud and dominating in the foreground.“
Across the globe, fear and anxiety are now “loud and dominating in the foreground” as the world seems to be at war with itself on every front. When bad news is often followed by worse news, we can experience a loss of hope and a sense of dread. We cannot always control the time and circumstance of our lives. The question is what will we do when threatened by storms?
J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters said it well:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
What did the Apostle Paul do with the time and circumstance often given to him? In Acts Chapter 27, Luke records for us the fearful events that assailed a ship bound for Rome. To all on board, this appeared to be their last journey. The Apostle Paul was a prisoner on the ship being delivered to Caesar. In all, there were 276 people, including Luke and Paul, the ship’s crew, Roman soldiers, and other prisoners and passengers. This remarkable account is rich with details of the violent storm and the crew’s efforts to save the ship–until their efforts were exhausted and hope was abandoned.
Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on,
all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. –Acts 27:20
Despite the grim circumstances, Paul continued giving courage and hope to the crew and everyone on board. Here are three things we observe from Luke’s account.
- Paul had a sure message from God, the same God who had delivered Paul and his companions many times before.
Hope has to be built on assurance, or a sure word. Otherwise, hope is merely wishful thinking.
2. Paul spoke to the people boldly, yet plainly and with confidence. He was not the source of their hope, simply the messenger.
Paul shared his message of encouragement with the entire group of 276 people, those who did not know the Lord of the storm and the Lord of their lives. Paul brought them words of hope, words they did not previously have.
“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.’ Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.” –Acts 27: 23-25
“Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.”
When was the last time you asked someone if they knew how it would turn out? Think of that. We know, because God, our Father, has told us! We know where history is headed and what the ultimate victory will be. Martin Luther also found courage in believing the promises of God. Inspired by Psalm 46, Luther penned A Mighty Fortress is Our God. “And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.”
3. Paul encouraged with physical help.
“Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing. Therefore, I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.’ Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat. All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food.” Acts 27:33-36
Human beings cannot live without hope. God made us this way. For Christians, this gives us an opportunity to…
- Speak to our neighbors of the sure hope that is within us.
- Encourage them with kind words.
- Help them with physical needs.
Hope gives birth to courage.
Courage brings endurance.
Friends, we were born and equipped for this.