Bible Society of South Africa

Absolutely Alive: Knowing God is always there - 12 July 2024

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

22But now I beg you, take heart! Not one of you will lose your life; only the ship will be lost.

Acts 27:22GNBOpen in Bible reader

Each day brings new challenges, but for many years now, possibly more discernibly since losing key people in my life, I’ve greatly appreciated the comfort and strength that only God can give me when having to endure trials, grief, disappointments and hardships – the storms of life – and I’ve wondered how anyone who doesn’t walk with Jesus gets through. We also need him close in physical storms, when we’re pitted against the elements, but we only understand why once we’ve lived through one.

Paul knew all about storms of different kinds, and his words in our verse today show that he’s contending with one with great depth of spirit. Although he, along with fellow-passengers aboard a ship to Rome, were at the mercy of a violent storm, “when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days” and they, “finally gave up all hope of being saved”, (Acts 27:20) he received a message from God that bolstered his faith. God had sent an angel to Paul with this reassuring message: “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” (Acts 27:24)

Paul had clearly been praying for the safety of his terrified companions and was able to share this comforting message of grace with them, as he reported: “Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me …” (Acts 27:23) Paul’s faith in God’s purpose for his life made him stand firm, and encouraged him to take charge at significant moments. God used this witness to encourage them that he was in control and would bring them all safely through the storm and shipwreck.

Even if initially, Paul’s companions may well have been incredulous – even questioning his sanity when they heard him comfortably speaking about an angel beside him, and the God he belonged to and served – they realised that Paul held the only hope offered to them for their survival on that ill-fated voyage. They didn’t know Paul’s God, but they saw him at work in Paul and hoped, beyond hope, that what he was sharing with them was true; imperceptibly believing increasingly in Paul and his God.

I really love the Bible’s honest portrayal of the reality of the full spectrum of life, and of Almighty God, who is always present in his mercy and grace through our Lord Jesus Christ, shining His light of love, wisdom, comfort and correction into the dark lives and situations in it, regardless of who or what it is.

What storm are you experiencing on your voyage

Does today’s verse of encouragement from Paul to his fellow-travellers not also speak to us?

Prayer: Lord, you are “my shepherd, I shall not be in want. You make me lie down in green pastures, You lead me beside quiet waters, you restore my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-2) Thank you that you are always there. Amen

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