5th September 2023
Chad Ashby offers
God Will Bring You Through.
Finding Strength for the Storms You Face
How do we weather seasons in life when friends are far away, fair havens have faded from the horizon, we are storm-tossed at sea, and everything we need has been stripped away?
You lose your job. Your home feels like a battleground. You've just been diagnosed with a serious illness. Your church is in dire straits.
In seasons like this, many of us (myself included) feel like we need something new - a new word from God that applies directly to our situation.
In Acts 27, after more than two years of waiting, Paul was finally sailing for Rome.
His whole life had led up to this moment. All of his training and experience had prepared him to preach the gospel before Caesar himself.
But on the journey from Jerusalem to Rome, Paul faced one of the fiercest storms of his life.
And the strength he needed did not come from a new promise, but an old one - a promise God had given to him years before.
The trip starts off well. At the first port, Paul is given liberty to visit friends.
On top of that, the ship is headed for a place called Fair Havens to spend the winter. But then everything starts to unravel:
The wind carrying Paul to his mission in Rome suddenly shifted.
As the ship left Fair Havens for the tempestuous sea, it was as if God himself was blowing against Paul. You can imagine Paul onboard the ship:
Jesus, I know you've called me to Rome. You promised that I'll testify to you there. Why are you making this so hard?
Have you ever felt this way?
Jesus, you've called me to this church. You've called me to this job. You've called me to this marriage, this family, this town. God, I'm just trying to do something for you - why do you make it so impossible?
When the winds are against us and no fair haven is in sight, we have to regroup.
We get so wrapped up in doing something for God. He is concerned with what he is doing in us. He leads us into winds and storms to show us just how unbreakable his promises are.
Paul warned the crew that a storm would come - and it did come.
A violent wind rumbled over the island of Crete, blowing Paul and his shipmates into the murky, angry depths of the sea:
Into that moment of utter despair, God sent an angel to Paul, saying, "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you".
God stripped everything away from Paul and his companions so they couldn't put their hope in cargo, tackle, or even the ship itself.
Paul's only hope was God's promise. That night, Paul strengthened the crew with the assurance of that promise
But what happens when something more practical than "trusting his promise" comes along?
That night, the sailors were tempted to take a more pragmatic approach:
They were willing to trust the promise of Paul's God when they had nothing else to go on.
But as soon as anything else appeared on the horizon, they were ready to jump ship.
Pragmatism says, "Abandon ship and take your chances rowing for shore."
Faith says, "Stay aboard a sinking ship and trust God's promises."
In our churches, how quickly do we abandon God's sure promises when something more practical appears on the horizon?
In our daily lives, the Scriptures are great when we feel hopeless, but how quick are we to jump ship the moment a more practical solution appears?
After Paul convinces the sailors to cut away the ship's boat, the story comes to a crashing finish.
And so it was that all were brought safely to land. We all knew this was how the story would end. We had no doubt God would keep his promise.
Isn't that a funny thing?
When we read God's word, we never wonder how the story is going to end. It's a foregone conclusion - God will keep his promise because he always does.
But how will God keep his promise? That gets more to the heart of it, doesn't it?
That's the question we find ourselves asking over and over again in the storm: How?
When Paul needed reassurance that God was going to deliver him, God didn't tell him how.
In fact, God simply reminded him of the promise he had already made.
In the crazy storms, the shipwrecks, the starless nights and sunless days, we don't know how God will save us.
But we do have his promises.
And when we get to the end of our lives, we will be able to say,
"I had no idea how he would save me, how I would make it to the end.
But never once did he fail to keep his promise."
Un-edited version avaiable, on request
Chad Ashby (@chad_ashby)
is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Grove City College.
He teaches literature, math, and theology at Greenville Classical Academy.
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