saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'Acts 27:24(NASB)
Paul was a seasoned traveller who faced many dangers on his journeys, and three times in his life he was even shipwrecked. Acts 27 records an occasion when Paul was one of a number of prisoners who were being transported to Rome by Julias, a decorated, Roman centurion. Their route took them past the island of Crete, but their progress had been hindered by inclement weather. Both the captain of the ship and his crew knew that the waters in that region were increasingly dangerous in winter, but Julias was anxious to fulfil his orders and deliver his prisoners to Rome before the winter storms struck.
Although warned by Paul that continuing in these weather conditions would be disastrous for both passengers and crew, they pressed on regardless, and for 14 days they battled the fierce storm. Many on board were so fearful that they refused to eat, but finally, Paul encouraged all on board to eat some food and remain encouraged. And he also informed the Centurion that the Lord had told him that the ship would be lost but all lives would be spared.
It was not wishful thinking, an optimistic attitude, or some pumped-up positivity that caused Paul to tell his fellow travellers that all their lives would be saved and not a single soul would perish during that shockingly destructive storm. Paul was not affected by the superstition of sailors, the anticipated plans of the Centurion, or the dictates of the Roman Empire.
Paul had been visited by an angel of God who told him not to be afraid, reminding him that the Lord had ordained that he must testify before Caesar, so nothing could happen to God's servant before he had fulfilled God's purpose for his life.
The angel also told Paul that he was not to be afraid and that God had graciously given him the lives of all those who are sailing with him. Every life, including the captain, the sailors, the Centurion, the soldiers, Paul, and the rest of the prisoners in the ship would be saved. And despite being nothing more than a prisoner in chains, we read that Paul stood up boldly and urged everyone to take courage, announcing that there would be no loss of life and that only the ship would be lost.
Paul believed God. His confidence was in God. Paul knew that the Lord was in control and that every word of the Lord is true. He trusted the word of the angel who came from God in answer to Paul's prayer, and this child of God knew that even the raging ocean and the loss of the vessel on which he was travelling would be used to fulfil the plans and purposes of God: "All things work together for good for those that love God, for those that are called, according to His purpose."
Paul demonstrated a faith that pleased God. Paul's faith was not a force to be exercised or a positive mental manoeuvre. It was based on his trust in God, and it was fastened securely on the facts of Scripture, which are unchanging, immutable, and true. His bold announcement to the fearful travellers was not based on a knowledge of weather patterns. He did not reassure his fellow passengers through reason, conjecture, presumptions, principles, probabilities, or speculations. Paul's faith stood firmly on the facts within the Word of God. His faith was anchored on scriptural facts and not on human speculations.
Paul knew that we are not only saved by grace through faith, but that we are to live each day of our life by grace through trusting the Lord to fulfil all His plans and purposes in his life. And we are to do the same. Three times in the New Testament and once in the Old, we read that the just are to live by faith. This needs to be the way that all His children conduct their lives, not only in our present circumstances, but in every area of life.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with me in all the storms of life, and the biggest and strongest of storms is not strong enough to stop Your plans and purposes for my life, if only I would trust You. Help me to put my faith in You, as Paul did when he was being shipwrecked. May I understand that Your ways are higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' name, AMEN.