Storms at sea are never pleasant. Awesome, frightening, but hardly enjoyable. Yet the lessons learned in the storm can be of significant value for another day and another circumstance. Almost the whole chapter of Acts 27 is devoted to the events surrounding a storm. There are lessons we may learn from this storm. God knows that each of us at some time or other must pass through our own deep waters. It is not “If thou passest through the water,” it is “When…”

One lesson is that God allows His people to suffer alongside the ungodly in the circumstances of life. God’s servants were in that storm because the sailors would not believe the words of Paul. Many of the Lord’s people must suffer because of the attitude of those who will not believe. Salvation of the soul is no escape from the common trials of life…not yet. The fallacy of the false gospel that declares, “God wants you healthy and God wants you wealthy” has driven many a simple soul into despair when they suffer pain and poverty. If it was preached instead, “God wants you holy,” that would be in harmony with the Word.

Another lesson we may learn is the Christians in the same circumstance may have quite different reactions. Luke writes, No sun…no stars…no small tempest…no hope (v.20). He was consumed with the power of the storm and what he seemed to have lost. Was the sun extinguished? Were the stars switched off? Above the storm they shone as ever in their place. What about Paul? He was up on deck, shouting above the gale, “Cheer up…all is well.” In the same storm one was downcast while the other was delighting in the promise of God and cheering others.

God often blesses unbelievers because of the presence of His people. God was not only going to save faithful Paul, but also fearful Luke. More than this, He was going to save the faithless sailors. This was for the sake of His servants on that ship (v.24) How little at times do unbelievers realize what they owe to the Lord’s people among them. Their preservation, their provision, perhaps their very paycheck is the result of the prayers and the presence of some unappreciated believer in their midst.

In the storms of life, God shows through His people who is really in control. Paul was only one of about 250 prisoners on board. But when the circumstance reached crisis proportions and the sailors and master of the ship were at a loss to know what to do next, it is Paul who steps forward and on the basis of God’s sovereign control brings some hope and order to things.

How good to be assured in every circumstance that it is “Jesus Christ: who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (1 Pet. 3:21-22). Things may get out of our control, but nothing ever gets out of His control.

When things are at their darkest, the Christian still has hope and God uses His people to present the hope to the perishing. Apart from the promise of God, there is no hope. Apart from the saving message from God, it must only be darkness and despair.

What a lesson for us in this day of drift and confusion. The sailors did not want to hear some cute anecdote, some eloquent, honeyed sermon, some cold analysis of Scripture. They would have despaired if all Paul had to offer was some new “method” of doing things. What they needed and what they got from the servant of God was the only thing that mattered – a message from God.

Lost sinners today can be “excited” by light and frivolous methods. They can be amused by interesting anecdotes. They can be impressed by eloquent dissertations. They can be influenced to give money, time, and effort. By none of these is the urgent need of their souls met. They need a word from God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then let us “Preach the Word…for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their on lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

Storms today may sweep us,

But the Lord will keep us

We shall have His presence ever nigh;

He is here beside

To uphold and guide us-

Endless joy is coming by and by.

Editor’s Note: J. Boyd Nicholson was the former editor of Counsel Magazine. This has been taken from his book, “The Watered Garden”

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