When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
God is with us through the storms of life (Acts 27:13-26)
In the famous 1997 movie, Titanic, we are allowed a cinematic glimpse into the harrowing experience of the danger that life at sea can sometimes be. As the ship sinks and the passengers on it scamper about for life – with many of those efforts ending in futility – we are able to witness how intensely fearful those moments were for many of those on that ill-fated ship.
The Apostle Paul was in a similar situation in Acts 27:13-44. He was involved in a shipwreck on his journey from Caesarea to Rome where he was headed to give an account of his faith in Jesus Christ before Caesar, the political head of the Roman empire at the time. Paul had himself asked for the opportunity to go before Caesar (Acts 25:12) and God in His providence had planned to use Paul to advance his kingdom at Rome. But while on this journey, Paul’s ship – where he had been put on as a prisoner – would be beset by a powerful storm (Acts 27:14) and the passengers on the ship all feared for their lives (Acts 27:20) perhaps not unlike those many passengers on that Titanic ship. But God saved Paul and mercifully delivered all on board with him as well!
We too, like Paul and his companions on that ship, may encounter storms in our own lives. These storms may not always be of a physical sort but come in different forms. These storms may come as loneliness, a diagnosis of an illness, family problems, unemployment or indeed, as the pandemic we are all currently going through. There are, however, some important lessons for going through these storms contained in this passage. Today and tomorrow we will consider three of them.
We may be faced with storms even when we are doing the will of God. It is instructive that Paul was faced with this mishap on his journey even though he was clearly in ‘chains for Christ’ (Philippians 1:13). It was in the course of his defending and proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ that he had been arrested (Acts 21:27). Indeed, the Lord had appeared to him and said clearly to him ‘as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome’ (Acts 23:11). This trip to Rome, therefore, was ordained by God. Paul was in God’s will. But yet, he was faced with a storm on the journey. We need to understand, then, that even when we are doing God’s will – whatever shape that takes – we may still experience setbacks, challenges, difficulties, frustrations, and even dangers to our very lives. Against the view of some who hold that being Christians makes us immune to life’s difficulties, we see clearly in this story that such a view is false. God’s people may suffer. But suffering does not mean that God has abandoned us. He has promised that ‘he would never leave nor forsake us’ (Hebrews 13:5). We err when we think that the ‘light momentary afflictions’ (2 Corinthians 4:17) we face are an indication that God has abandoned us.
Wemimo Jaiesimi, a member in Lampeter Evangelical Church