A Small Problem

paul's_ship_2  When the Apostle Paul sailed for Rome (see Acts 27) it was a perilous journey. In our day and age of luxury cruise ships and monstrous military vessels, it may be somewhat hard to imagine sailing on the types of ships used 2000 years ago, but my research tells me the ship Paul was on typically carried large payloads of grain and were of enormous size and had a crew of around 270 men. Still, by today’s standards it would seem quite primitive I’m sure.

Acts 27:9 tells us the trip was occurring “after the fast.” This is a reference to the “Day of Atonement” which occurs in the late September to early October timeframe. Sailing in the open sea was especially dangerous from mid-September to mid-November, after which sailing ceased for the winter. So Paul’s ship was sailing during a time that was particularly dangerous.

Some distance into the journey, after leaving a port in Crete in what the crew felt were favorable conditions, the ship was met with hurricane force winds and after days of struggling against the forces of the storm, the Bible records, the crew gave up all hope of being saved. They desperately began to throw overboard anything they could to lighten the load, they threw ropes around the hull to try and strengthen the ship, and, when it became apparent the ship would be destroyed, they even formulated a plan to kill the prisoners on board, lest any of them escape when the ship was destroyed.

The crew had a big problem on their hands and they had lost all hope, but Paul had heard from an Angel of the Lord and was told they would all survive. I will leave it to you to read the details of the story on your own, but suffice it to say God had bigger plans and He saw to it that the men on the ship were saved even though the ship itself was destroyed. The storm seemed a big problem to the sailors as they bravely struggled to save themselves, but God, who commands the earth and the sky, had a larger plan in mind and was working behind the scenes.

This same God who made that big storm but a small problem for the sailors on Paul’s journey to Rome promises to be at work behind the scenes in our lives as well. In the words of Jesus: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Our God, the creator of heaven and Earth, omnipotent and all powerful, is without limitations. And though we suffer through problems that cause us pain and suffering that is all too real at times, we can place our trust in Almighty God. He promises to bring us comfort, strength, and hope. As the Psalmist wrote: “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8)

Here are some verses that I hope will bring you comfort during your next trial as you learn to trust God:

“The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:14)

“I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” (Psalm 94:18-19)

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:5)

“Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.” (Psalm 10:17)

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2Corinthians 1:3-4)

And in the words of Isaiah: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31)

So whatever troubles you face, I know your problem is real and the pain, hurt, anxiety, or bitterness you feel can seem huge, but our all-powerful, omnipotent, loving Father and Lord, promises to be there with us, to bring us comfort and strength, to give us rest. And nothing can separate us from that. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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