PEACE IN FIERCE STORMS
Lord, we trust You in all situations.
Read ACTS 27:13–26
13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, 17 so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor[a] and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
a Acts 27:17 Or the sails
New International Version (NIV)
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“If God be our God, he will give us peace in trouble… The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble” (Thomas Watson, 1620–1686).
This passage contains a vivid account of the fierce northeaster which the sailing party encounters on their way to Rome. This violent storm lasts for two weeks (27), driving them across the storm-tossed Adriatic Sea and stretching them to the breaking point. The text goes to great lengths to express the danger of the situation, and Luke even says “we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (20).
In the midst of this vicious storm and dark situation, an angel appears to Paul and confirms how crucial it is for him to testify before Caesar: “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you” (24). Paul relays this message to his fellow passengers and, although having spurned his advice previously (10,11,21), this must have come as incredibly welcome news. One again, Luke affirms Paul’s divine mandate to appear before the center of Roman power: the “must” confirms that he will indeed bear witness at the very heart of the empire. The implication is that God in his sovereignty is orchestrating circumstances to bring this encounter to pass.
This scene contains obvious parallels with the Gospel story of Jesus calming the storm (Luke 8:22–25). In this instance, however, Paul does not actually quiet the storm; instead, his internal tranquility of spirit calms all of his fellow passengers in their distress. Because he has walked closely with God, he is able to stand up with prophetic authority in this dire situation and proclaim a message of hope directly from God. The people are reassured and filled with courage thanks to Paul’s faith in and connection with God.
God affords us peace, security and authority in the midst of storms. Where are your opportunities to minister, out of internal calm, to those caught up in storms around you?
Lord, when the storms of life assert themselves against me, grant me the same deliverance that You gave Paul and the passengers on that ship long ago.