‘The way out of the storm, is to go through the storm’ – that’s what came to mind one morning as I woke up.
I’m currently working through the short course ‘Out of the Storm’ with a fellow leader, and it’s proven to be God’s word to us for this season. It’s a stormy season for our community and those close to us. But God knows how to get us through.
Below are some lessons we can take from Acts 27 on how to stand in faith through a storm.
You will find two contrasting sets of characters. On the one hand there are the sailors, skilled and experienced at their job. On the other hand there is Paul, a man of faith with no expertise in being at sea.
You may know the story: Paul is headed for trial before Caesar. The transport is by sea. A sudden storm, so big it even has a name (Northeaster), overtakes the boat carrying 276 passengers headed towards the port of Rome, of whom one is Paul. The sailors do all they can to get the boat back on course, with no avail. For many days they see neither sun nor stars – just darkness. Further, not only does a physical darkness envelop them, but a spiritual darkness comes upon the crew, as they lose all sense of hope and submerge under a spiritual depression.
Paul, the man of God, is seeking God. He stays open throughout the storm, to hear God’s word. After receiving a vision, he boldly proclaims the message that God will surely save them. In the face of hopelessness, Paul stands firm to receive the prophetic word, and bring it forth. He does not partner with hopelessness, but rather stays connected to God throughout. Hence he is able to see and speak life, when everyone else around him can only see and speak death.
Paul continues to stay open to receiving God’s word, and gives instructions on two further occasions. Fortunately, the soldiers listen, and their lives are preserved.
The last command is simple and what we could call ‘common sense’. But the sailors had been so overwhelmed during this intense trial, they had forgotten to do the normal, perhaps you can relate. His instruction was simply ‘to take food’ – yes, eat. They need it in order ‘to survive’; that’s what will ‘give them strength’ (ESV).
Often in storms, it’s easy to stop doing the obvious, to stop eating. However, in order to survive like the sailors, we must eat. Physically, yes, but also feed our spirits with the Word of God – for that is what sustains us. Perhaps the last thing we want to do when we’re going through a storm, is show up. It’s easier to hide, and withdraw from the very things that would sustain us through the storm. But we need our daily bread, our times of fellowship, our times of meeting and worshipping together. That’s what will give us strength to endure.
Next Paul calmly gives thanks and breaks bread before the crowd. In the midst of chaos, he is looking up, and giving thanks to God. He is remembering and looking to God’s goodness, Jesus’ sacrifice, the love and mercy of God.
It is a powerful thing to give thanks when nothing looks right outwardly. But when we give thanks, and praise God, we are remembering the goodness of God and joining our faith with who He is. As we recall the good things he has done, gratitude and peace arise, enabling us to regain our perspective.
‘Let him who has no light, but walks in the darkness trust in the Lord’ (Isaiah 50).
Some storms are so dark like the one above, that there really does appear to be no light. Isaiah acknowledges such a time. It’s so tempting to reach out for something or someone, but there are times when nothing else will work, and God encourages us to trust Him alone. As we cling to him, he will bring us out.
The storms of life can often appear overwhelming, but God promises that though we pass through the waters, he will be with us, they will not sweep over us and overwhelm us (Isiah 43).
No matter what you’re going through right now, hold on. Don’t give into hopelessness, stay open to the prophetic word, keep feeding on God’s word, and give thanks through it all.
God will bring you out into that spacious place.
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