Hunkered Down Devotion

Acts 27:9-11, 14, 20, 23-26 (Voice)
9 We had lost a lot of time already—it was late in the year for sailing—following the Day of Atonement, and conditions had deteriorated from adverse to dangerous. Paul tried to warn those in charge.
Paul: 10 Sirs, if we proceed, I can see that our voyage will be dangerous and will involve heavy loss, not only of cargo, but of the ship itself; not only of the ship, but also of our lives.
11 But the officer ignored Paul and instead trusted the ship’s pilot and owner who felt they could proceed.
14 Then things got scary. A violent northeaster, the Euraquilo, blew down across Crete.  20 Days passed without relief from the furious winds, without a single break in the clouds to see sun or stars, even for a moment. Despair set in, as if all hope of rescue had been cast overboard as well. 21 On top of all of this, the crew had been unable to eat anything because of the turmoil. Paul saw the crew had reached a critical moment. He gathered them.
Paul:  23 The God I belong to, the God I worship, sent a heavenly messenger to me this night. 24 He said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. I’m not finished with you yet. You are going to stand before the emperor! You can be certain that God has granted safety to you and all your companions.” 25 So listen, men: you must not give up hope! Keep up your courage! I have faith in God that things will turn out exactly as I was told last night. 26 Here’s what I foresee: we will run aground on some island.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, ‘a smooth sea never produced a skilled sailor’.  All of us long for ‘smooth sailing’ and calm waters, but the reality is that it is usually through the trials, challenges, and difficulties in our lives that we grow, learn, and forge our character.  

When it comes to our faith, we sometimes think that trusting in Jesus means that our troubles are behind us.  This simply isn’t the case.  Trusting in Jesus doesn’t clear any of the trouble from our paths, and if we take Jesus at his word, we will often get ourselves into trouble because of him.  

There was a song I grew up singing at camp that went like this: God did not promise sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.  But God did promise strength for the day, Rest from our labors, Grace for our trials, help all the way.

We can’t be confused about this, remember the song if you have to, but trusting in Jesus is not a ‘get out of life free’ card.  Trials, trouble, and all of the things that come with life – both good and bad – are still going to come our way.  Some of those troubles will even come because of our association and trust in Jesus.  

But we also can’t miss what God did promise.  First, God has promised to be with us, every step of the way – celebrating our victories, mourning with us in our sorry, even carrying us when we can’t go on ourselves.  Second, just as Paul told his fellow sailors in verse 25, we should not give up, and we must keep hope, because no matter how difficult the journey, no matter how rough the seas, we can hold to God’s promise that the end is secure and that we will, eventually all reach our destination, at home in the arms of our loving creator and God.  Have faith!

Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer:  Lord, prepare us for the bumpy waters ahead, and help us to trust in you now and always. Amen.

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