The Reading: Acts 27:1-44
“… take heart … for this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong.” (vv.22-23) RSV
The story of Jesus calming the storm may give the impression that God always wants to and will stop our crisis and make things calm once again. That is not necessarily so. Today’s story about Paul being shipwrecked on the island of Malta (Acts 28:1) is just such a case.
Prayer does not always give us what we think we want/need. Paul did not have his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) taken away, and Jesus did not have his crucifixion taken away. Both of them started off their prayers requesting those things, but both came to understand that the highest purposes of God would not be fulfilled that way.
So, with the ship being in severe trouble Paul set about praying. During the night he had a visitation – an angel. Lucky man, that sort of thing doesn’t happen to most of us! Yet, maybe it does and we don’t recognise an angel when we see one (see Hebrews 13:2). Anyway, one way or another God spoke to Paul. The message was good news and bad news, the good news was that no one would die, but the bad news was that the ship would be lost.
Paul, amazingly, had such an authority and calm awareness of what was going to happen that he was more or less given a free hand to tell the crew and the soldiers what to do. God will give us authority when we listen to him and move in the Spirit. Hearing God is the key to life. Did not Jesus say: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”?
The storm in our lives may not always end up altogether happily but with God there will be a constructive and positive outcome. Sometimes our beloved possessions may have to be jettisoned. Sometimes the outcome puts us in a different place than we were before e.g. Malta! Travelling with God is not necessarily a smooth passage, but whatever happens, He is with us, and all things will work together for good.
Thank you Father for the excitement and unpredictability of life. And thank you that you are in it with us – a steady hand at the helm. Help us not to wrench it away from you. Amen.
Explore More – Genesis 39
1 What ‘storm’ of temptation did Joseph encounter?
2 What was the cost to Joseph of overcoming the temptation?
3 What was the positive outcome?