Trust that Jesus is in the storm, be ready for what He has planned next
“Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.” –Acts 27:22
When I was looking forward to March Madness, a pandemic was not what we had in mind. The acronym, “NCAA” now has a whole new meaning: National Coronavirus Anxiety Attack. Consequently, the disappearance of basic necessities on our store shelves tell us that Americans are hitting the panic button. It’s hard to know what’s more of a threat—the virus or the panic. So how can we prevail and not allow ourselves to get sucked into this vacuum of uncertainty and despair, while at the same time pointing apprehensive people to the God of peace who can fill the vacuum of hope in their hearts?
If there is anyone who knows how to rise above a crisis, Apostle Paul has the credentials: Among a host of other calamities he relates, “Three times I was shipwrecked.” Luke gives us a detailed log of one of those shipwrecks in Acts 27. What can we learn from Paul’s adventure at sea about trust, common sense and calm in the eye of the storm?
First, recognize that the most important thing is to arrive safely, not quickly. In the long run, exercising common sense—even if it means delay—is better than expedience. Paul sensed that attempting to sail further during the winter storm season would spell disaster, so he advised the ship’s captain they should winter in Fair Havens. Alas, common sense is trumped by expedience (in this case, profit), and it was decided to push on despite the risk. God has a plan for each of us that eventually will bring us safely to his Fair Haven for us—together, but we must let him work it out in his time and in his way, not ours.
Second, trust that Jesus is in the storm. Ignoring Paul’s warnings, the captain hoisted sail; soon the ship was caught fast by a violent tempest, called the Nor’Easter. Adrift many days before the gale, all aboard despaired of their lives—except Paul, who demonstrated his trust in the providence of the God who rides on the wings of the storm, saying to the rest, “. . . the angel of the God to whom I belong, and whom I serve, stood by me and said, ‘Have no fear, Paul!’” Of all people, God’s people need to be the ones who demonstrate trust in God’s providence to an anxious world in trying times.
Third, Paul recognizes that the ship is expendable, but life will go on, saying to the others, “keep up your spirits for no one’s life is going to be lost, though we shall lose the ship.” We have lots of things to worry about in the ship—jobs, house, car, retirement, but nothing is more important than life and family and relationships. Our ship just might sink—let’s accept it, deal with it and trust that God’s plan is still in effect. He will not abandon His own.
Next, communicate the value of sticking it out together. Some, looking out for themselves, under pretense of lowering anchors, tried to abandon the others and make to shore in the skiff. When people look out only for their own interests, they make it harder for everyone else. Today’s current panic-buying is testament of this. The few panic-button hoarders make a dire situation even worse, and so it snowballs—everyone else begins to panic. If we determine to pull together and work together, we will all thrive together.
Finally, be ready for what God has planned next. They hadn’t eaten for days; the ship was going down and they would need strength to make it to shore. So, Paul, after giving thanks to God for their bread, took and ate. This sign of faith encourages the rest. They all made it to shore. How are my actions and words showing an anxious world that they can trust in God to be with them in their storms? No one can be certain what the portents will portend, but God’s people can show a fearful world that, when Jesus is in the storm, there can be peace in the boat.