This very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.” So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
As Paul traveled as a prisoner on a boat to Rome, a debate broke out concerning the right course of action for their trip. During the debate, Paul gave a warning (Acts 27:9-10). Apparently, he had already identified himself by his character and leadership, and when it came to sea voyaging, he had wisdom to share. So Paul advised against continuing the voyage on the basis of what he knew about the sea and the season, and from his personal experience of being shipwrecked (2 Corinthians 11:25).
Paul’s warning was disregarded, but time proved him right. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the ship was driven along by a storm of hurricane force “called the northeaster” (Acts 27:14). The effect of the wind was so dramatic that in a moment, a calm sea became devastating, and the vessel was so buffeted that the lives of all on board the ship were threatened. At some point, those who had dismissed Paul’s warning had to look into one another’s eyes and say, You know, it’s all over. We are clearly not going to get out of here.
Yet while everything indicated that this was the end for Paul and all on the ship, the apostle still had the promise of God. In Acts 23:11, the Lord had stood by him and told him, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” Paul’s life may have been threatened by the turbulence, but God’s promise was sufficient—and it was a promise that His angel repeated to Paul at the moment of crisis on the ship. Despite appearances, there was no need to fear, for the promise had been made and would be kept. Therefore, Paul told those around him, they could take heart, for the God to whom Paul belonged does exactly as He has said.
In our daily lives, our experiences and feelings don’t always appear to agree with God’s promises. We know that He has assured us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)—but that vow can feel empty or remote. We know He has promised us that He will always be at work for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)—but that can feel unlikely. We know He has said that His children will see Him face-to-face (Revelation 22:3-4)—but that can feel impossibly distant. Any of us can trust God’s promises when the sun is out and when the band’s playing. The challenge is to trust Him in the dark and in the silence—or, as in Paul’s case, in the midst of the raging storm.
When the fulfillment of God’s promise seems least likely, remember Paul. Even when your circumstances and God’s promises do not seem to align, know that as He has done repeatedly in the past, God will always keep His word. When wave after wave seems to be crashing upon you, you can trust that the God to whom you belong and whom you serve has promised to bring you safely to the golden shore and the eternal city.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.