In all the social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and business, school, and church closings, people feel lonely, afraid, and discouraged. One of the weapons of Satan is discouragement. In Acts 27, Paul is on his way to Rome to face trial and give his testimony before Caesar. As he crossed the Mediterranean Sea, the ship he was on was caught in a storm for days and those onboard lost hope. God gave Paul a word of encouragement and Paul encouraged the others saying…Keep Up Your Courage.
Winds of Adversity
When you read Acts 27, you see the word “wind” repeatedly. The wind was against the boat, it was “tempestuous,” and sailing was dangerous. They were in a storm that is symbolic to the storms of life, like the global pandemic we are facing. Life is made up of soft and refreshing winds, but suddenly out of nowhere there can be winds of difficulty and danger. Some storms we bring on ourselves, like Jonah did. Jonah was in a storm out of the will of God. Paul, however, was in a storm in the will of God. It was not Paul’s fault. He told them not to sail. It was the centurion’s decision. No matter the cause of the storm, Jesus can speak, “Peace be still,” to the storms in our lives. This storm was named Euroclydon. The present storm has name Coronavirus or COVID-19. You can’t stop the storms from coming, but you can control how you respond.
Anchors of Certainty
In verses 22-25, Paul tells the people on the ship to take heart, “for there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.” The angel told him that no one would lose their life. When your flesh starts to get the best of you, remind yourself that Jesus is Lord. He is not going to make a mistake. I know God and I know God loves me. He will take care of us. We all have guardian angels. Look at the difference between Paul and the sailors. This is the time for believers to set an example for a watching world. Storms do not make a person, but they show us what we are made of. Fearing they would run aground, they cast four anchors (v. 29). Anchors are used to steady the ship. Anchors keep you from drifting. What are four anchors that will keep you secure and stable in the storms of life? The anchor of prayer – “Cast all your care upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). The anchor of faith – I don’t believe the wind or waves, I believe God. The anchor of hope – take courage and be of good cheer (Mt. 14:27). The anchor of action – the sailors did all they could do. They threw all the weight overboard, then they ate and had church (v. 34-35)! That is peace in the midst of the storm! Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light. In all the uncertainty, people need to be reminded we are going to make it. Get a word from God and stand on His promises. Don’t let circumstances change your commitment to God.
Boards of Safety
The centurion “commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land” (v. 43-44). I cannot think of anything more terrifying than your ship sinking at sea. Some of you are worried about losing your health, you are watching your retirement account, the stock market, and the economy sink, or you may be losing your business, losing your job or hours. You just hang on to the boards of safety that God is sending! He will keep you afloat! You are going to make it safely to the shore because you have a God in heaven who has committed Himself to care for you. Did God do what He said He would do? Yes! God does not need a whole ship or lifeboat to take care of you. He can take care of you with one board! Hang on to God! God is hanging on to you! Many Greek scholars believe the word “parts” can be translated “people.” Swimmers holding on to non-swimmers, rescuing them. I know you are discouraged today. The storm of COVID 19 has hit everyone hard. We are in this together. Stop looking at the storm and start looking to the One that even the winds and the waves obey. Do not be afraid. Keep up your courage! Let God encourage you and you encourage others.