Paul told the Romans that his desire was to go to Rome. He would make it to Rome, but probably not in the way he imagined. He would go as a prisoner. Even so, his journey to Rome would be filled with peril, for in the middle of the Mediterranean the ship he was on encountered a storm that threatened the lives of all on board (Acts 27). When we con-sider that the bulk of the passengers were also prisoners, one would have to wonder how these people would deal with an impending tragedy.
The storm was going to hit, but God was still in control even when the fear had gripped those on the ship. Imagine the scene: violent winds driving the ship, no control over the direction, and they begin to jettison cargo. Neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and with the violence of the storm, all hope of being saved was gradually abandoned. Add to this that they were now without food. Hunger. Fear. Impending death. How could they deal with this?
Paul had warned them not to sail at that time, but the captain refused to listen (perhaps even mirroring the attitude of those who refused to listen to the Gospel for salvation). Yet Paul, not bitter, offers more encouraging words: “Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 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” (vv. 22-25).
The question that then remained with whether or not they could trust God. This has ever been the question. Can we trust God? When the storms hit the hardest, can we trust that God is still in charge? Can we take comfort in His guiding hand? Can we trust that He does know what is best? Paul’s attitude is stellar. “I believe God.” Period. No second-guessing. No demanding why. Just, “I believe God.” With this in mind, we offer the following lessons:
1. When the storms hit, God is still in control. We live in a world that is storm-tossed, and we cannot escape that fact. Accepting that God is in control should never depend on our lives being storm-free. God might just be in that whirlwind, telling us to trust Him (see Job 38).
2. Trusting God is a matter of accepting His promises. “I be-lieve God” is not just a statement of believing God exists; it is a statement of believing that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). God keeps His word.
It is important to recognize that God never promised that our lives would be easy or pain-free. Some use the problem of suffering as a way to deny God, but God’s promises are not based upon a pain-free life. Rather, the ultimate promises we look to go beyond the here and now. We look not at the things that are seen but at the things unseen (2 Cor 4:17-18). We must keep this perspective in place.
3. Storms provide us with opportunities:
- to trust God and grow closer to Him
- to trust others (could those on the ship trust what Paul was saying?)
- to be more like God Himself in compassion, love, and generosity
- to pray
- to glorify God
- to serve God’s greater purposes
It is difficult for us to know exactly what God may have in mind when we go through those storms. It may well be that He intends for us to be a blessing to others in helping them come to a greater realization of why they are here. If our pain can help unite, strengthen, and give proper spiritual perspective to more people, then let God be glorified in the storms.