And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. ~Acts 27:20
Recently I watched a documentary on the Weather Channel about a cruise ship, the Oceanos, and its ill-fated sinking during a storm off the eastern coasts of South Africa. Amazingly, no one was killed and all 571 passengers were rescued. There were many tense moments when the remaining passengers had diminished hopes before the ship sank . This morning, we are considering another true incident of a ship that was caught up in a storm at sea. Our passage this morning describes the fears of the 276 passengers as being “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” Let us consider this morning that hope springs eternal even in our most difficult situations.
We see the disaster.
Paul was on a ship intending to get to Rome. The timing of this journey was between late September and October. The ship was caught up unexpectedly by a storm that was named Euroclydon, or, Cyclone. The fury of this storm resulted in the ship needing to be lightened of its tackling and goods. The ship was tossed about in the sea. The storm continued in its full strength for many days with no indication of it lessening anytime soon. The crew and its passengers were tossed about in darkness for the many days of this ordeal. The ship was breaking under the stress of the many days of rain and sea water pounding. Everyone on this ship, including Paul, was looking at the face of disaster.
We see the despair.
“And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” This verse so aptly describes that feeling of despair. We feel like we are in darkness, the bad news intensifies, the nights are long, we have spent up our money trying to find an answer, and we feel completely hopeless. Hopelessness is when we feel like we are trapped with no escape. Hopelessness is when we feel like we are buried under the weight of our problem. Hopelessness is when we feel like even God is nowhere to be found.
We see the declaration.
“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye 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 there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.” At the right moment of time, God gave light in that darkness. Paul gave a word of encouragement to this band of men. Through this message, God made it clear that He had taken over this journey and that the lives of every man was safe in His hand. In every storm of life, God can only take over when we realize we are powerless and inadequate. God gives us hope when things look hopeless. God makes a way when there seems to be no way. God gets us to our destination his way and not our way.
We see the dependence.
“Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” Somewhere in the wee hours of the night, God met with Paul and gave him this assurance that bolstered his faith and allowed him to lead the men through their crisis. Next to God’s power, it is the faith and dependence of Paul upon God’s Word that is important. Paul’s faith was stretched and strengthened as it latched on to him without wavering.
Hope springs eternal when our faith looks up to God even in our times of greatest despair. Trust God through His Word for your life when even “the sun and the stars do not appear for many days.”
Have a hope-filled God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Corinthians 15-16