“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them and said, ‘Sirs you should have hearkened unto me and not have loosed from Crete and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer—for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship, for the stood by me this night the angel of God, Whose I am and Whom I serve, saying Fear not, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar—and, lo, God has given you all them that sail with you.’ Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer—for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”
In the midst of the fiercest storms we can still hear His “still, small Voice” if we’ll but listen.
There’s no doubt Paul was apprehensive about setting sail so late in the year (v.10). He did his best to warn others, but they wouldn’t listen and set sail anyway (vv.11-12). Sure enough, his worst fears were realized when the allurement of a big pay-day in Italy and “south winds blowing softly” (v.13) caused the ship’s owner and crew to throw caution to the wind and proceed full-sails ahead.
But then the feared Euroclydon appeared (v.14).
These fierce, northeasterly hurricane-force winds are notorious ship-wreckers and sailor-killers on the Mediterranean Sea. And “letting a ship run” in such winds (v.15) is like being on a runaway rollercoaster with no brakes. It’s a “hang-on-for-your life and hope-for-the-best” experience.
Even though the sailors did what they could to bind the ship together (v.17) and lighten their load by throwing some cargo and the tackle overboard (vv.18-19), they realized they were still in dire straits and began losing hope of even surviving.
It was during those moments that Paul went into prayer and fasting (v.21). And, it was during this time alone with God that an angel of the Lord appeared to him with good news (vv.23-24). Oh, dear Pilgrim, how we should remember this when “no sun or stars in the sky appear for many days and fierce winds and waves are threatening to swamp our boat.” Truly, there’s no better time or place to cry out to God than in the midst of such storms and hopelessness!
We must believe Paul’s 275 fellow passengers looked at him in disbelief when he stood there in the driving rain and tossing seas and said “Be of good cheer! It’s going to be okay!!” No doubt they looked at him the way some of our listeners will look at us: In utter disbelief and scorn!
But, do not fear, faithful Pilgrim.
Do as Paul did and tell them the basis of your hope. Tell them, as Joseph did his brothers, the things which God has told you, even if you meet with ridicule and disdain (Gen. 37:5-11). If our message to them is from the Lord, then it will come to pass even as it did in Joseph and Paul’s case (Acts 27:22, 44). And, even if they don’t believe, we will still be able to have peace-of-mind and hope in the storm when others are losing theirs.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna October 13, 2009