Howling winds and storm waves lashed at the ship. In a desperate attempt to not run aground, cargo was thrown overboard. The men lost hope, they couldn’t eat, couldn’t fight against the dangerous storm. Yet one man stood and told them to take heart, have courage, that although the ship would be lost, God would save everyone on board (Acts 27).
Paul was only one man, but his actions and reactions affected the other 275 people on that boat. Paul encouraged his shipmates, and his faith in God rippled out to give strength, courage, and faith that God would save those on the ship.
When one person is full of faith, their faith spills out and ripples out to others. Our faith in God, helps others have faith in God. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to encourage one another and build one another up.
To encourage one another means you are giving courage to another. Please don’t ever discount what you do and what you say. Actions and reactions cause chain reactions. Negative emotions, actions, and reactions, negatively affect others. Positive emotions, actions, and reactions bring positivity. And your faith and trust in God will help and encourage others in soul-deep ways.
There is a bigger picture than we can see, there is more to discover, and more to learn. During our storm seasons, let’s look for the God-given lessons. In the storms we learn who truly is in control. The only One who is in control – God.
In Paul’s case, the boat couldn’t save them, the sailors couldn’t save them, the soldiers couldn’t save them, Paul’s friends couldn’t save them, the only One with power to save was, and is, God. When storms rage and our ship is driven by the wind, even when people make choices that bring negative problems into our lives, when disaster looks imminent, remember God is still in control. He is all-powerful with all power to save, and He is a God of tender, new-every-morning mercies.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, ESV).
Our storms also have a greater purpose. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children’s gifts, causing them to shine even brighter. … God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks.”
Storms are merely training sessions. Every trial and trouble we experience give an opportunity to discover how God helps us through every experience. Storms and difficulties give an opportunity to stretch our faith muscles to help us grow stronger in our faith.
James reminds us, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4, NLT).
What often looks like the worst thing can be the best thing. Because of the storms, Paul had an opportunity to talk to the entire ship about God and share that God was the true God who saves. Paul’s calm faith reassured everyone on board to have faith. Because of Paul’s faith, those on board ate food and gathered their strength. Because of Paul’s faith, the centurion kept the soldiers from killing the prisoners. Because of Paul’s faith, everyone stayed on the ship until they ran aground.
Know what else is amazing? Those on board had to be shipwrecked to be saved. The boat being torn apart, provided objects for those who couldn’t swim to survive.
Because of Paul’s faith and testimony in God, I wonder how many on board wanted to know the God who saved them, the only, true God?
Steven Cole shared…”God could have saved Paul… but let the others perish. But instead, He graciously granted to Paul the lives of all on board. The world never knows the protection that it receives because of the presence and prayers of God’s people! Scripture doesn’t tell us how many of those on board eventually came to saving faith in Christ, but I think that many did. Whenever you are going through a storm, not only pray that God will deliver you, but also that He will grant you the souls of others with whom you have contact during the storm. He may be taking you through the storm for the very reason that He wants to use you to bring the gospel to others ‘on board’ with you. The fact that He graciously answers prayer for the salvation of others should encourage us in the storm.”[i]
When storms rage, when life’s shipwrecks come, our God is working in amazing ways. God is growing our faith, growing opportunities to stretch our faith, and giving opportunities to share our faith.
Pray for yourself, pray for others, and watch for the lessons God is revealing. Pray, be calm, and let your faith ripple on!
“Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation]’” (Isaiah 41:10, AMP).
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[i] Steven Cole sermon, https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-70-encouragement-life-s-storms-acts-272-3-21-26-33-36
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