THANKFULNESS AND WRECK
Lord, we are aware of Your protective presence around us.
Read ACTS 27:27–44
27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic[a] Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet[b] deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet[c] deep. 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
a Acts 27:27 In ancient times the name referred to an area extending well south of Italy.
b Acts 27:28 Or about 37 meters
c Acts 27:28 Or about 27 meters
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“To live a Eucharistic life has everything to do with gratitude. Living eucharistically is living life as a gift, a gift for which one is grateful” (Henri Nouwen, 1932–1996).
After 14 days of being tossed by the violent storm and eating very little, Paul urges them all to eat, and does something rather surprising: “He took some bread and gave thanks (eucharisteo) to God in the presence of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves” (27:35,36). Paul has not withheld his identity as a Christian, but Luke emphasizes the public nature of this act of thanksgiving and implies that all 276 of the ship’s occupants witness Paul breaking the bread. Scholars are divided as to whether this is intended to invoke the sacrament of the Eucharist (or Communion), but it is clear that taking food with gratitude at this stage constitutes a sign of hope and confidence in God.
This act of publicly breaking bread takes on a subtle missionary dimension (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23–26) and is Paul’s way of “preaching” to his fellow travelers in this traumatic situation. His message is confirmed when Paul’s prediction that the ship will run aground and be destroyed but that none of them would die comes to pass exactly as he has said. The Spirit-inspired message is confirmed to everyone on the boat, which affirms Paul’s divine authority. Even in such dire and life-threatening circumstances, Paul continues to be the suffering witness.
Luke describes the grounding of the boat in vivid detail, including the way that all of the passengers’ lives are spared because of Paul, and the favor he enjoys with the centurion. Once again, God uses Paul redemptively, in this case to spare the lives of all of his traveling companions, and not a single one is lost.
Thankfulness can be a powerful testimony, especially in dark and difficult times. How can you cultivate a thankful heart? Take a few moments to tell God specific things you’re grateful for, and then ask how you could be a catalyst for hope, faith and thankfulness to others in your environment.
Lord, Your ability to deliver Your people out of impossible situations makes us marvel at Your power over all things.
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