God’s grace among stormy seas
Acts 27:9b -11: Paul gave his advice and told them, :”Men, I see this voyage is headed toward damage and heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but also of our lives.” But the centurion paid attention to the captain and the owner of the ship rather than to what Paul said. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided to set sail from there, hoping somehow to reach Phoenix, a harbor on Crete open to the southwest and northwest, and to winter there.
Acts:27::21b -24 Paul stood up among them and said, “You men should have followed my advice not to sail from Crete and sustain this damage and loss. Now I urge you to take courage, because there will be no loss of any of your lives, but only of the ship. For this night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me, and said . “Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. And, look! God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.”
If you were the centurion who would you listen to: one of your prisoners or a ship’s captain? The experts in sailing were the captain and the ship’s owner — Paul was only a prisoner. Fair Havens was not a suitable port for wintering in — so they decided to chance it as soon as a favorable wind sprung up. They should have listened to Paul.
The moderate south wind was short lived and was soon replaced by a northeaster. The storm was terrible; they were doing everything they could to lighten the load — the second day of the storm they got rid of some of the cargo, the third day, the ship’s tackle was thrown overboard. The tackle was no longer needed to unload the cargo! It was eleven more days `before they began to approach land. The men were not even eating during this time.
Imagine going through a storm so severe for 14 days that you abandon all hope of being saved. You are constantly being tossed about by the waves, and even experienced sailors are giving up hope.
What were Paul and his friends doing during the storm? I believe they were praying — not only for themselves, but for everyone on the ship. I believe they asked for their lives and that those who did not know the Lord would see God’s glory. I believe Paul prayed for others, even as his own life was at risk.
The storm raged for days. Then Paul speaks. Paul had a destiny to fulfill: he must stand before Caesar. Paul would not perish in a storm before that happened. God was having mercy on Paul, and Paul would fulfill his kingdom purpose. There were other believers on board:, including Luke, as he writes these passages using ‘we’. They had purposes to fulfill as well. The ship’s 276 people also included many non-believers, but God’s mercy to Paul extended to them and they would not lose their lives.
Some sailors tried to escape the ship, by letting down a boat. However, Paul knew that everyone was to stay on the ship, so the soldiers, this time believing Paul, cut away the ropes from the ship’s boar.
The soldiers did not want to be responsible for escaped prisoners, so wanted to kill them. The centurion wanted to save Paul, so forbad it. Again, mercy extended to Paul ended up being mercy extended to a larger group.
Paul gave good advice not to sail. They sailed anyway, and came across a huge storm. This caused additional hardship for Paul and the others believers on board. The ship’s crew lost their cargo, and yet no lives were lost. God’s plan for Paul allowed him to give mercy to everyone on the ship.
God was merciful to the Jewish people by sending them a Saviour. Yet, Jesus’ sacrifice was so great that God made sure it was for all people, not just the Jewish race.
Isaiah 49:6 He says “It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
God’s mercy to the Jewish people has overflowed to the gentile nations, it has became salvation to the world. Praise God — it even extends to me!
God has been so merciful to me in my life. How have I let that mercy be extended to others? I can think of times I have shared my resources with others. Yet, I feel I need to let God’s mercy flow through me even more.
Paul went through hardship even as God was being merciful to him and others. Am I willing to go through hardship, so that others might be blessed?
Prayer: Lord, Jesus, thank you for your great mercy to me. You have been very merciful to me as I went through stormy seasons in my life. Let me allow that mercy to overflow to others. Amen.
cc: K Carswell, 2023
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.